Animal welfare during bushfires

Page last updated: Friday, 24 December 2021 - 9:24am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

It is the responsibility of owners and carers of animals to ensure their safety and survival during a bushfire. These include livestock, horses, companion animals and wildlife.

Please follow the directions below according to the bushfire alert level for your area. 

Official bushfire warnings can be found at


A fire has started but there is no known danger – this advice provides general information to keep you informed and up to date with developments.


  • Owners or carers of livestock, pets and companion animals should activate their own animal welfare plan, ensuring their animals and themselves are not in danger.
  • Take advice from Local Government Authorities to protect the lives of your animals and yourself.
  • Continue to monitor local ABC radio for fire situation updates.

Watch and Act

There is a possible threat to lives and homes – conditions are changing, you need to leave the area or prepare to actively defend your home to protect you and any inhabitants.


  • If planning to evacuate animals, take them to stay with a friend or family member, or to a private boarding or agistment arrangement.
  • If evacuating livestock or horses is not possible, consider moving animals to a paddock with low fire fuel load. Ensure animals have enough feed and drinking water for several days of high temperatures.
  • External property gates should not be opened if internal property fences are opened to allow animals to move away from a potential fire.

Emergency Warning

You are in danger and your area will be impacted by fire – you need to take immediate action to survive. Check the status of the warning and directions regularly and continually to determine whether you can leave or must stay and shelter as the fire burns through your area. An emergency warning may be supported with a siren sound.


  • It is not safe to evacuate horses and large animals.
  • It is not safe to handle animal movements outside.
  • DO NOT cut fences along roadsides or open external property gates.

All clear

The danger has passed and the fire is under control but you need to remain vigilant in case the situation changes. It may still not be safe to return home.


  • When safe to do so, check your property for hazards, such as sharp objects, dangerous materials, live wires and contaminated water before moving animals.
  • During daylight, check animals for any injuries and seek veterinary services, if required. 
  • Ensure animals have access to adequate clean water.
  • If livestock have been without food for a long period, reintroduce food slowly and in small portions.
  • Owners with missing animals and people assisting others to locate missing animals should contact the relevant Local Government Authority.