2013 News

Bushfires highlight large animal rescue needs

Date: 23rd October

Work Group: AWRED

Activity Type: Conference

The NSW bushfires have again highlighted the needs of animals caught in natural disasters, with an upcoming international conference to be held in Australia set to focus on rescue techniques.

Experts in the field from around the world will gather in Adelaide on 2-3 November for the fifth International Large Animal Rescue Conference – the first time the event has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to organiser Julie Fiedler, of Horse SA, large animal emergency rescue is the response phase to a natural or man-made disaster or accident, where specialised training and equipment are required to rescue a large animal such as a horse, alpaca or cow.

“When an animal is trapped in a hole, by wire, in a road crash or mud – it can easily revert to the inbuilt ‘fight or flight’ responses regardless of the age, training or breed. This especially applies to horses,” Ms Fiedler said.

“Without the skills and knowledge associated with large animal rescue techniques, the animal is likely to become more injured during the rescue than the initial accident caused in the first place.

“The people rescuing the animal often put themselves at great risk injury or worse, often without realising it.”

The event is being supported by the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS), which has been working with government bodies and animal welfare groups to develop national planning principles for animals in natural disasters.

AAWS was jointly developed by the Australian Government, state and territory governments, industry and the community. It aims to deliver sustainable improvements in the welfare of all animals by outlining directions for future improvements and providing national and international communities with an appreciation of animal welfare arrangements in Australia.

The conference will focus on topics including catering for animals during natural disasters, incident management, worker safety and animal welfare.

The event will be attended by around 80 horse owners, emergency services, researchers, educators and veterinarians from around Australia.

The keynote speaker for the conference, Jim Green, is the senior animal rescue specialist from Hampshire Fire and Rescue in the United Kingdom.

Other international speakers include Dr Ian Dacre, disaster management operations director for the Asia-Pacific branch of the World Society for the Protection of Animals; Dr Rebecca Gimenez, a technical large animal emergency rescue specialist from the United States; and internationally respected Professor Christopher Riley, from New Zealand’s Massey University.

As a member of the AAWS, Horse SA has also been working with other industry groups to develop national standards for horse welfare, via AAWS projects including owner surveys and certification of groups which sign up to a voluntary Horse Welfare Protocol.

ENDS

Media contact: Michael Thomson
Cox Inall Communications
07 4927 0805; 0408 819 666