PETA urges pets be a part of the family fire emergency plan
THE silent victims of bushfire disasters can often be much loved family pets and farm animals.
The fury of recent days provides a sombre reminder that while the human cost is horrific, the loss of pets and livestock can prolong the grieving process and cause even more heartache than the loss of property and possessions.
Animal welfare group PETA has launched a campaign offering advice to residents looking to ensure the safety of animals should the need to evacuate become urgent or mandatory.
Above all, companion and farm animals should be included in any disaster-preparedness plan long before the crisis arrives.
PETA says it's crucial to never leave animals behind to fend for themselves.
Never leave animals trapped by tying them up or otherwise confining them.
In the case of cats, dogs and other companion animals, always select a suitable destination in advance.
Although human shelters often refuse animals, motels often allow dogs, cats and other small animals in an emergency.
Animals should never be left unsupervised in a car as they can suffer from heatstroke, even if water is provided and the windows are slightly open.
Place small animals in secure carriers or on a leash, and ensure there's an identity tag attached to the collar in case they become frightened and bolt.
Take water and food bowls, favourite toys or blankets, a towel and enough food for at least a week.
In the case of larger or farm animals, identify or prepare a low risk area (one with few resources to fuel a fire) to which the animals can be moved prior to the fire.
A low-risk paddock is sufficient for cattle and horses.
If you plan to stay on the property, have at least a week's worth of feed on hand.
And if you see someone else's animal in distress and are unable to help, call the authorities as soon as possible.