I was made aware of the disastrous flood situation being suffered by so many in Australia by reader and concerned citizen, Mel Vincent. She asked me to post on the subject of evacuation for those of you with birds and other pets. I had done a post several months ago on the subject and will link you to that. I asked her if there was anything that could be added to my post to make it more relevant to your situation. In addition to supplying this helpful link, her poignant reply was this:
“I guess if I’m to draw from a news story here the other day. A man nearly died trying to rescue his 200 birds. All of his birds died. While 200 is more than most people would be dealing with, one thing that he said just resonated with me. He couldn’t catch the birds. They were just too terrified as the situation unfolded. People don’t think about their pets reactions. In fear, a bird will bite so it pays to have a towel or something to grab them with, don’t anticipate that they’ll cooperate – assume they won’t.
The other main thing that we’re seeing in Australia is that people are tending to ignore evacuation warnings and put their emergency plans into action too late. People tend to think that they’re in a high area/they’re safe in the inner city. (Toowoomba is basically up a mountain so why would it flood? Brisbane is huge – the damn should protect them. The whole it has never happened before thing…) People have a tendency to change their minds and leave at the last second which is how so many end up sitting on their roof, being swept away in their cars. People don’t realize that a helicopter will not take the animals from their roof, the animals die.
The television news just told some areas of Brisbane to “GET OUT NOW. It’s worse than we predicted. You no longer have hours, don’t stop for possessions, just go, there’s a wall of water coming your way, you literally have seconds- go.”
That’s a terrible thing to hear on the news when hours ago they said be on alert. If I was there I’d have left hours ago. So maybe advise people to err on the side of caution? Act early? The worst thing that can happen if you put your emergency plan into action is you leave for no reason for a while. The worst thing that can happen if you don’t is that your animals die.
So I guess in a nutshell three things I’d add:
1) assume your animals won’t be cooperative and plan accordingly.
2) Don’t hesitate. Enact your emergency plan when the first warning comes out. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
3) Have two different emergency plans. The one where you have seconds (after all, anyone’s house can catch fire) and the one that you have time to evacuate properly (such as flood, bush fire, gas leak in area…)”
Please be safe and heed her advice. We’re thinking about all of you…
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.