Include pets in bushfire plan

Teele Hooper-Worrell, with Karen Miller, has written her phone number on Hugo’s hoof in case of an emergency. Picture: Jon Hewson         www.communitypix.com.au   d447104
Teele Hooper-Worrell, with Karen Miller, has written her phone number on Hugo’s hoof in case of an emergency. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d447104

A HOT and dry summer looms for WA and horse owners are being urged to include their animals in their bushfire planning and preparation.

Last year, a number of horses died in the Forrestdale and Banjup bushfire, which tore through 500ha of land in Banjup, Forrestdale, Atwell and Aubin Grove on February 9.

Teele Hooper-Worrell, from the SJ Equine Landcare Group, said there were many different ways to protect horses in an emergency.

“It’s so important to have a clear plan outlined before an emergency,” she said.

“Creating fire zones on your property to protect buildings and creating safe zones where your stock can move to is the first step.

“This means reducing fuel loads in a 20-metre radius around your house and stables as well as keeping your property tidy of fallen branches and leaves.”

Emergency plans need to include an evacuation plan, which details where and when horses can go in an emergency.

Friends and neighbours should be asked beforehand if they are willing to be an evacuation point to allow easy access to a safe property.

Ms Hooper-Worrell said horse owners could also write their phone number on their horse’s hoofs in permanent ink and braid a label into their mane in case you become lost or separated.

Horses should be trained to allow strangers to approach and lead them in case firefighters need to remove them from an at-risk property.

“If your horses are hard to catch, you may want to keep them in a smaller pen in a low-fuel area,” Ms Hooper-Worrell said.

“When my area has a high fire warning, I make sure my float is packed and ready and all pets are in hand in case I need to leave.

“I will also put the water on around the house and in one paddock. If I can’t leave with the float that is where I would turn them out.”

Horses should not be let loose in the hope they will find safety as they can become a hazard to the public and emergency vehicles.