Animals are often caught up in disasters along with people, so veterinarians have an important role in disaster response.
Veterinarians play an important role in the immediate aftermath, in assessing which animals can be treated effectively and humanely putting down the more severely injured. They are also important in reuniting companion animals with their owners.
After being involved in the response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the AVA has taken on both formal and informal roles to support animal welfare responses by state and territory governments. We coordinate preparedness training for vets when required and communicate between government response agencies and veterinary volunteers when emergencies occur.
In 2013, the AVA was part of the committee that developed the National planning principles for animals in disasters under the auspices of the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy. The National planning principles for animals in disasters outline all the key considerations for government at all levels to include animals and welfare consideration in disaster preparedness, response and recovery planning. These principles were subsequently adopted by the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC). ANZEMC is the top-level committee reporting to the policy and emergency management ministers standing council.
AVA regularly communicates with animal owners and vets about how to plan ahead to protect and care for animals and veterinary practices in the event of a natural disaster.