Animals in emergencies

Animals in emergencies

Do you have a plan for your family and your animals in case disaster strikes?

Disasters can strike in New Zealand without warning.

The NZVA strongly encourage you to make disaster plan for your family, including your animals. This means being prepared to evacuate quickly, and having enough supplies to stay away from home, in safety, when a disaster strikes.

Under New Zealand Animal Welfare legislation you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that your animals’ physical, health and behavioural needs are met - these needs are defined in the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (section 4). In a disaster these requirements must still be met. The Act defines these needs as provision of:

  1. Proper and sufficient food and water.
  2. Adequate shelter.
  3. Opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour.
  4. Physical handling which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.
  5. Protection from and rapid diagnosis of significant injury or illness.


There are loads of great resources online to help you build a plan for evacuation that includes your animals.


Get Ready, Get Through – Advice on how to prepare in case of disaster. (


Protect your pets in a disaster – free downloadable disaster pack checklist for pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and birds) from World Animal Protection.

Emergency checklist for pets from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Animals in emergencies - information and advice from the SPCA.

Livestock and lifestyle block animals

Emergency checklist for livestock and horses from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Emergency checklist for lifestyle block animals from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Checklists for types of emergencies from the Ministry for Primary Industries

Animals affected by fire

Animals affected by earthquake

Animals affected by flood

The NZVA’s role in emergencies

The NZVA has a legislative responsibility to support the Ministry for Primary Industries under their animal welfare obligations to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

In case of emergency the NZVA will:

  • provide advice on where veterinary treatment can be obtained.
  • provide assistance in alleviating animal suffering through the coordination of the provision of advice, feeding, relocation, or sheltering of animals during and after an emergency.
  • coordinate the provision of trained veterinary personnel to assist in affected areas.
  • ensure rapid communication of relevant information to veterinary members and branches, especially to and from affected areas.