Be prepared: RSPCA warns of the risks wild weather can pose to your pets
After a storm, the RSPCA often records a spike in the number of calls about lost pets.
We’ve heard terrible stories of dogs jumping through windows to escape loud noises, or over fences that would normally contain them.
Since July 1, there have been more than 25 posts on the lost and found pets Facebook page in Geraldton, with many telling how their animals fled during storms.
Here are some tips on how to protect your pet during a storm and what to do if they go missing.
An up-to-date microchip and ID tag with your details will provide the best chance of being reunited with your pet if they escape.
Of all the strays who came into RSPCA WA care last financial year, less than half were able to be reunited with their owners. In most cases, this was because they had no microchip or the details were out of date.
It’s so simple to check your pet’s microchip online at petaddress.com.au. If you don’t know your pet’s microchip ID, contact your council or vet for help. RSPCA would always suggest bringing your pet indoors during a storm — even if it’s just to a bathroom or laundry.
If your pet must remain outside, make sure they have access to weatherproof shelter which is raised off the ground to prevent flooding.
If you know your pet is very fearful of thunderstorms, chat with your vet about treatment options.
Natural products like Feliway for cats, or Adaptil for dogs, could help calm your pet.
During the storm
Provide a safe area where your pet may feel more at ease. Close bird cages, rabbit hutches and other enclosures, and ensure the pet door and windows are closed.
To protect livestock and horses from wild weather and flooding, move them to paddocks with high ground and plenty of trees or a man-made shelter.
If your pet does go missing during a storm, keep calm and start searching immediately. Thoroughly check your property, then notify neighbours and ask them to keep an eye out.
Check places your pet visits regularly and enlist help from family and friends to search. Bring along your pet’s favourite toys to help lure them out — especially if it’s a squeaky toy.
For cats, shake biscuits to attract their attention.
Contact local councils, vets and animal shelters and create posters to place around your neighbourhood.
Social media is a fantastic tool for getting information out to the wider community.
Remember, pets have been known to show up months after going missing, so please don’t give up.
Message from RSPCA WA Mid West inspector Maureen Rogers
Having an animal go missing during a storm is distressing for the owner and animal.
If your pet doesn’t have an ID tag, or if you haven’t checked their microchip details are up to date, please let this be your reminder.
A trend in cruelty reports I’ve seen over the colder months this year is dogs being tethered without sufficient shelter. Tethering animals can be risky in itself, as pets can become tangled, distressed or injured.
Please keep your animals safely confined, warm and healthy this winter.
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