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SocietyFebruary 1, 2023

Keeping pets safe during and after a flood

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Found a lost pet? Wondering how the animal shelters are going? The SPCA and the Auckland Council animal management team share some advice. 

Floods don’t just affect humans, they affect the furry members of the family too. It’s important to look out for animals following the Auckland floods, although it’s still too early to tell if property damage will impact the number of pet surrenders. 

As of January 31, animal shelters hadn’t seen an increase in pet surrenders after the flooding. However, Elly Waitoa, manager of Auckland Council’s animal management team says Auckland Council’s animal shelters have increased capacity temporarily to look after animals that need emergency housing, with space for dogs, small animals, and some stock. 

Displacement or changing routines can be distressing for animals too, says Waitoa. For those with pets at home, physical safety matters too. “It’s important that pets don’t play in or drink from floodwater puddles as the water could be contaminated. Similarly, you should prevent your pets from exploring in potentially hazardous debris,” she says. If your pet is exhibiting unusual behaviour or seems unwell, then it’s always a good idea to contact a vet. 

woman holding dog
Reach out for help from a vet if your animal seems unwell (Photo: Getty Images)

A guide on the MPI website gives further details of how to respond to animals in a flood, recommending that having a routine with meal and exercise times as much as possible can help keep pets calm. 

Pet shelters across Auckland are largely operational following the flooding. “Henderson Shelter experienced some flooding in its exercise yards which is draining away, but the dogs were all safe and dry,” says Waitoa. The Henderson shelter, as well as the shelters in Manakau and Silverdale, have opened crisis centres for those who aren’t currently able to take care of their pets, providing food and board free of charge. 

The SPCA’s Māngere centre received minimal damage from the floods, while its Henderson centre was not impacted. All animals and staff are safe. 

When evacuating, it’s important to remember that “if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets,” says SPCA CEO Gabby Clezy. If you’ve lost a pet while evacuating, the SPCA recommends use of lostpet.co.nz and putting out calls on social media, as those in your local community often have the best chance of finding your pet. 

If you come across a lost pet, Waitoa says to follow normal procedures; contact the council for a lost dog or the SPCA for other animals and make sure the animal and the people around it are safe in the meantime. 

Clezy said that while SPCA shelters and op shops in Auckland remain closed for the time being, their animal welfare inspectors are available for emergency queries, and they hope to resume operations soon. 

Impact on animals is a reminder of how far-reaching the damage from the flood is. Waitoa and Clezy both reminded people that for those who are stressed or struggling with looking after their pets during a natural disaster, there is help and support available. 

Additional reporting by Alex Casey.

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