South Australia: Veterinarians helping animals in emergencies

As the weather warms up and the bushfire danger season rapidly approaches, our animals – whether pets, livestock or other – also need to be considered as part of emergency management planning.

Research shows that a lack of planning can result in poor outcomes for animals and may lead to people putting themselves (and others) at risk trying to save animals at the last minute in dangerous situations.

Veterinarians can play a significant role in community preparedness. A survey carried out in 2016 by Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) found that around 20% of people prefer to seek information about planning for their animals in emergencies from their vet.

Do you know what to do in an emergency? Where can you get information? How can you volunteer veterinary skills to help in an emergency response?

Earlier this year PIRSA, with the support of the Natural Disaster Resilience Program, developed and implemented Managing Animals in Emergencies: A Framework for South Australia.

The Framework outlines the key principles that should be considered in planning for animals in emergencies, the roles and responsibilities of animal owners and who supports animal owners during and after emergencies. The Framework supports the State Emergency Management Plan.

As part of that plan, PIRSA leads Agriculture and Animal Services, which provides immediate animal relief during an emergency event when normal services are disrupted.

As part of any emergency response PIRSA may utilise a range of participating agencies including the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), with on-ground veterinary support supplemented by South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management Inc. (SAVEM) and RSPCA SA when required. Other support for animal welfare is provided by the Animal Welfare League and Primary Producers SA.

Anyone with veterinary skills that would like to volunteer to help in emergencies needs to have prior emergency training, which is available through SAVEM.

Here are some handy links: 

Information on the Framework and for animal-specific emergency planning resources

Current animal emergency planning information

For further information contact Zita Fewster, Senior Animals in Emergencies Project Officer, PIRSA on 8429 0855 or via email


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