In focus: natural disasters in New Zealand

Disasters can be deadly because they can strike at any time and without warning. It is necessary to be prepared, act early and stay safe.

Different types of disasters bring with them specific considerations. Having the right information will help you take the right actions to ensure the safety of your pet.

Christchurch earthquake 2011

The Christchurch Earthquake in Feb 2011 was deadly for both people and pets. It also struck without warning.

Wellington SPCA Chief Inspector – Ritchie Dawson – who has supported World Animal Protection’s Disaster Assessment Response Teams, describes what it was like on the ground in the aftermath of this Christchurch Earthquake (Feb 2011).

Ritchie explains how volunteers put their lives on the line to save peoples’ pets and why making a plan now, for your pet, is critical to ensure these important members of your family are not lost forever.

Our disaster work in New Zealand

To address the need for animal protection in a disaster, in New Zealand, the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management (NAWEM) Advisory Group of which World Animal Protection is a member, was started in 2006.

NAWEM is a cluster of agencies with the purpose of providing advice on animal welfare issues during emergencies.

NAWEM is formally recognised by the New Zealand Government, as a cluster of organisations which can assist and advise civil defence planners. It is made up of representatives from; World Animal Protection; The Royal New Zealand SPCA (RNZSPCA); the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA); the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM); the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI); New Zealand Institute of Animal Management (NZIAM); Federated Farmers of New Zealand; Massey University and the New Zealand Companion Animal Council (NZCAC).

Logos of: SPCA, NZVA, MCDEM, NZCAC, NZIAM and Assistance Dogs New Zealand

New Zealand guidance for the welfare of pets in an emergency

NAWEM has drafted New Zealand’s first comprehensive guidance for the welfare of pets in an emergency: The National Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Plan 2015. This technical information will assist the country’s civil defence emergency management planners, and others responsible for animals in an emergency, on how to develop companion animal (pets) emergency welfare plans for their local area. 

You can read more here.

How New Zealand helps animals in disasters

NAWEM members from MPI, SPCA and Massey University have been trained and are able to assist the World Animal Protection’s Disaster Assessment Response Teams (DARTs) in the Pacific and, should the need arise, Asia.

World Animal Protection is the only animal welfare organisation to have a full-time, dedicated disaster team, which these DART teams feed into. 

With this dedicated disaster team and more than 50 years of experience in the disaster field, World Animal Protection is the world leader in animal disaster management work.

World Animal Protection team treating puppy who had become ill after eating a fish that washed up during the cyclone in Vanuatu