Get Ready Animals

Make a plan for your animals today

Emergencies such as floods or bushfires can happen quickly.

Planning how to take care of your animals before an emergency helps to keep everyone safe.

Let's Get Ready and Make an Animal Emergency Plan

Emergency Information

  • In a life threatening emergency dial 000 (triple zero) immediately


Select an option

Planning for large animals and livestock

Having large animals and large numbers of animals on property requires special consideration and planning in advance of an emergency to ensure their safety and survival.  Large animals/livestock can include horses, cattle, alpacas, goats, sheep and pigs. 

Before creating your plan, you should:

  • Understand your flood risk and fire risk
  • Check you have a Property Identification Code (PIC) for your animals - required for any property that has large animals or livestock. A PIC helps identify properties which may require emergency and recovery assistance. For more information or to apply for a PIC, visit NSW Local Land Services. 


Your plan - When, Where, How and What?

WHEN will I leave?

Relocating large animals takes time, so it is best to move them early.  

  • Know your local flood risk and fire risk ahead of time
  • Stay informed - check weather conditions and warnings and emergency services advice.
  • Animals can behave differently under stress. Moving them before they become panicked will keep you and them safe.
    • Bring them closer to the house, yards or transport option so they are ready to load
    • Relocate them to your safe area if you cannot take them with you.

WHERE will I take my animals?

Have a list of multiple properties in different areas where you can relocate your animals to safety. It is best to talk to these property owners in advance of an emergency. Consider agistment properties that can take your animals for the short term, in case you need to re-build fences before returning them home.

HOW will I take my animals?

Consider suitable transport to move your animals such as a float or trailer. Check the equipment is safe to carry your animals, e.g. solid floor, tyres and roadworthy. Plan in advance who could move your animals for you if you are not at home, e.g. neighbour, friend, family, someone from your pony club, riding group etc.  Read a factsheet about creating good NEIGHbour networks

For more information on the movement of livestock and horses in an emergency, contact your Local Lands Service office.

WHAT do I need to prepare/take for my animal?

  • Prepare an emergency kit suitable for your animals. See example  Horse Emergency Kit 
  • Ensure your animals have the correct identification:
    • Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are required to be identified with an approved NLIS ear tag or other NLIS devices.
    • Use visual identification methods, in case you are separated from your animal. Identification for horses can include halter tags, mane tags, neck band with name and phone number, livestock marker, clipper shaved info in the animal’s hair etc. Identification for livestock can include ear tags, tail tags or leg bands, neck chains with ID, ear notches, microchips, brands or livestock marker.

If your animal is on an agistment property, it is important that you have shared your emergency plan with the property owner.


Practice your plan

Like people, animals can behave differently under stress so practicing your plan helps you and your animals to:

  • build familiarity, confidence and speed of getting your animals in or out of a float/trailer
  • work out how long it may take you to relocate animals, how many trips you will need to make if you have multiple animals and whether you need others to help you
  • identify any flaws and improve your plan.


Floods: Animal Ready – Planning for Horses

Preparing a safe area for the animals that stay behind

If you are unable to relocate your animals off your property, it is important that you prepare a safe area onsite to give your animals the best chance of survival:

  • Ensure clean water and feed is accessible for animals for 3-7 days. 
  • Bush fire safety - select a paddock with low fuel loads, e.g. very short grass, ploughed ground, yards and minimal flammable materials.
  • Flood safety - prepare a flood mound or identify areas above flood levels with appropriate feed available.

Other tips:

  • Open internal gates and/or fencing to allow freedom of movement BUT never leave the external gates open. Don’t lock gates in case emergency services need to gain access.
  • Never tether your animals. Allow them to roam freely. 
  • Remove rugs, halters and metal shoes if possible as they may be flammable, melt, cause burns or snag.
  • Turn off power to electric fencing.
  • Ensure that fire hoses reach around buildings and that you have tested your pumps.

Floods: Animal Ready – Helen’s Story

Get Ready Animals - Livestock owners

Get Ready Animals - Horse owners: what’s your flood plan?

Planning for your pets and small animals

Around 63% of households in Australia have a pet.  Pets are considered part of the family.  Because of the close bonds people have with their pets, research shows that people do risky things in an emergency because of their pets such as:

  • Delaying leaving and/or evacuating because they have not planned what to do with their animals.
  • Entering unsafe environments to retrieve their animals.

Preparing your pets and small animals in advance of an emergency will reduce the level of risk and stress for you and your animals.

WHEN will I leave?

WHERE will I take my animals? 

Plan for where you can stay during an emergency, such as with family or friends. If your animals can’t come with you, consider options such as boarding facilities. Ensure you have up to date vaccination papers and contact details for your options ahead of time.

You can also consider pet-friendly accommodation for you and your animals.  Look for temporary rentals, caravan parks, or motels that accept pets.

Having a plan that provides you with a range of options for your family and animals, can reduce stress during an emergency.

During an emergency, evacuation centres may be opened to provide emergency support for you and your animals. You are responsible for the welfare of your animals at these sites, so make sure you have your animal “Grab & Go” bag with you. Remember, these sites may not always be available or suitable for the needs of your animals so other options are essential. 

HOW will I get to my safe place?

Consider how you will transport your animals and which routes you will take.

Practice your plan to see how long it takes to get there, for example will you need to make more than one trip or need any help from neighbours or friends? It is important to understand your local evacuation routes and follow advice.   

WHAT do I need to prepare/take for my animals?


Having equipment ready to contain and move your animals easily is invaluable. Remember whatever you use should allow them to breathe, not cause injury or escape. Items can include:

  • Commercial cages, crates or portable pet carriers are useful to contain most animals.
  • Cardboard or plastic boxes with sufficient air holes and secure lid are suitable for small animals, e.g. rabbits and guinea pigs or birds.
  • Sack or pillowcase securely fastened for reptiles.

Pack 3-7 days’ worth of supplies in a “Grab & Go” bag to care for your animals’ health and comfort and store for easy transport e.g. back-pack or plastic tub. Add items you will need BUT also those you might need, including:

  • Non-perishable food (including instructions on feeding) and water.
  • Collars, leash, ID tag, etc.
  • Medications, tablets or creams (with instructions)
  • Bowls, spoon, can opener
  • Toileting- kitty litter and/tray, poo bags etc.
  • Paper towels and disinfectant
  • Bedding- blankets, towels etc.
  • Comfort items- toys, treats
  • First aid kit with bandage, tape, antibiotic ointment, etc.
  • Photo of you and your pet, contact details, etc.
  • Recent vaccination certificates and veterinary records
  • Emergency contact details e.g. vet and accommodation options

Regularly check your supplies are not out of date.  Water should be replaced every six months.

Identification for your pet is important in case they are separated from you during an emergency.

  • Ensure your dogs and cats are microchipped, registered and vaccinated. This is a requirement for pet owners in NSW. If you are not sure, check with your vet who can use a microchip scanner. Register your dog or cat through NSW Pet Registry
  • Visual identification is also helpful. A collar with ID information including your phone number should be worn. Cages and carriers should also have ID labels attached.

Practice your plan with your animals

Like people, animals can behave differently under stress so practicing your plan helps you and your animal.  Practicing your plan can also alert you to any potential issues.

By including your animals, they will become more comfortable with containment, travelling and being around other animals and people. Reward them so it becomes a positive experience and easier during an emergency.

The importance of having an emergency plan for your animals

An emergency plan for your animals – with sign language

Emergency planning for animal holding facilities

Animal holding facilities such as boarding, training, day care and breeding facilities can be particularly vulnerable during emergencies. They often have large number of animals in their care and are in rural or bush settings.

Having a plan, and practicing it regularly, is critical to ensure the animals in the care of these facilities are safe in a range of emergency situations.

The Planning for Emergencies - A Guide for Animal Holding Establishments - NSW DPI is a comprehensive guide that can assist with planning.

Some factors to consider when making your plan:

  • Do I understand the threats to my facility, and have I weighed up the risks of staying to protect it versus evacuating?
  • Is my facility suitably designed and resourced to be successfully protected/defended?
  • Have I trained my staff effectively and provided them with any necessary equipment and protective clothing?
  • What will be the triggers for action, and what is the process for notifications to staff, animal owners, emergency services etc?
  • Do I have the capacity to contain and transport all animals off site? How many trips will I need to make?
  • Have I determined where I will go and has this been pre-arranged? Will they accept all the animals?
  • What will I take for the animals?
  • Do I know my safe evacuation routes and options if they are cut?
  • Have I practiced this plan to see if it will work when I need it to?

During an emergency

Here are some important sources of information to assist during an emergency.

Evacuation centres may be opened during an emergency to support you and your animals. In some emergencies Animal Safe Places may also be opened for the safety of your animals. You are responsible for the welfare of your animals, so make sure you have your animal “Grab & Go” bag with you. Remember, these sites may not always be available or suitable for the needs of your animal, so other options are essential.

If you are separated from your animals during an emergency, some options include:

Find information here on treating burned animals - Australian Veterinary Association - Animals and Natural Disasters

Visit Helping wildlife in emergencies, if you find wildlife that requires assistance.

What if I’m not at home?

Not being at home when an emergency occurs can happen. Getting home may also be impossible due to road or bridge closures. Your plan should cover this risk. Don’t wait for an emergency to give instructions as phone lines could be down or jammed. 

  • On high-risk days e.g. extreme fire risk or when intense rain is likely, locate your animals close to the safest or easily accessible places on your property before you leave for the day.
  • Talk to family, friends, neighbours etc., to discuss and make arrangements for your animals to be moved to safety if you are not at home.
    • You may need to leave them with a key to access your house or yard.
    • Tell them where to find your Grab & Go Bag.
  • Some neighbourhoods have ‘Meet the Streets’ events.
    • This is a chance to get to know the people in your street.
    • Knowing your street provides a network of people that can help support one another during an emergency.
    • Or you may want to organise your own ‘Meet the Street’ event.

Some tips on what you can do if you’re not at home during an emergency

Resources and videos

If you have any comments or feedback on this site, please use our contact form.

Contact Form

Back to top