Animal Evac NZ’s donation to FENZ marks progress towards animal-inclusive disaster management.
After deployments to rescue and support animals affected by disasters in New Zealand and Australia, Animal Evac New Zealand is refocusing efforts on the root causes of animal harm in disasters.
Progress in animal disaster management in New Zealand has led to Animal Evac NZ moving away from operational roles, as Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) takes on this active role.
To mark the refocus and progress, Animal Evac is donating animal rescue equipment to FENZ. Six sets of NRS canine personal floatation devices, dog muzzles and three inflatable swiftwater rescue sleds were handed over to FENZ this week by AENZ volunteers Pinky Shah (Board Secretary) and Neha Goyal. Though “Rosa”, the canine model for the event, stole the show.
Over five years, Animal Evac NZ was able to accumulate this equipment thanks to the generosity of donors and sponsors.
Animal Evac is proud to donate this equipment to support FENZ in rescuing animals in emergency and disaster situations, indicating a major shift in how animals are viewed in disaster response.
With credible organisations like FENZ taking an active role and interest in animal rescue, Animal Evac NZ continues to push for animal-inclusive disaster laws, policies and plans, ensuring animals are core to emergency management, not an add-on.
Animal Evac New Zealand started after the 2017 Edgecumbe Flood, where over 1000 animals were left behind after the urgent evacuation of the town. The then New Zealand Fire Service had no mandate for animal rescue. Animal rescue was left to volunteer groups, with minimal central government capability and support needed for such a high-risk operation.
Fast forward to Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023, and a major cultural shift in how emergency services see companion animals in disasters. FENZ swiftwater rescue teams ensured that companion animals were rescued and evacuated alongside humans. These swiftwater rescue teams will be the main benefactor of Animal Evac NZ’s donation.
‘Companion animals are part of the family,’ says Dr. Steve Glassey, Co-founder and Patron of Animal Evac NZ.
‘It makes sense to have one agency responsible for rescuing every member of a family, applying the One Rescue approach, where animal welfare and human safety go hand-in-hand.’
Thank you to the team at FENZ including Ian Duncan, Hami Tate, Deborah Leslie, and Jayne McCullum for hosting the handover and for their support. Thank you to PaddlerZone (Christchurch) and the Natural Pet Store (Upper Hutt) for supporting this project. And finally, a big thank you to “Rosa” for modelling the new rescue equipment. Images featuring Rosa are courtesty of FENZ.