Emergency location area for horses and large animals in Wanneroo

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In the future during emergencies such as bushfires horses and other large animals will be able to go a temporary relocation area at Nanovich Park. Picture: Anita McInnes

WANNEROO councillors have given their approval for the city to enter a memorandum of understanding with the Wanneroo Trotting and Training Club for a temporary animal relocation area during emergencies such as bushfires.

During the 2019 Yanchep bushfire some Seatrees and Breakwater residents with horses, sheep and alpacas had to leave them behind when they evacuated.

Charlotte Roberts said it was only due to family in nearby Neergabby that they were able to evacuate with their animals.

“We were already separated from our children who were at daycare/school in Alkimos,’’ she said.

“Without the ability to go to local family with our animals, god knows where we would have gone with two horses and two large dogs.”

The City of Wanneroo has investigated the possibility of using Nanovich Park where Wanneroo Trotting and Training Club (WTTC) is based as a primary animal relocation area – the facility includes a club house, toilets, kitchen, two stables, 54 horse stalls and the capacity to house 150 horses.

In November last year the council approved a five-year lease of portions of Crown Reserves 19545 and 34616 to the WTTC.

An officer’s report in October recommended fencing along Benmuni Rd for added safety and security and the availability of an emergency animal welfare resource kit to have on hand key items such as signs, stationery items and leads.

City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts said the agreement with the WTTC was an important step towards ensuring the Wanneroo and neighbouring local government areas were prepared for any future emergency evacuations.

“During the devastating Wooroloo and Hills bushfires in early 2021, the city activated an emergency animal welfare evacuation point at the Wanneroo Showgrounds to provide support to residents in the City of Swan,” she said.

The City of Wanneroo has investigated the possibility of using Nanovich Park where Wanneroo Trotting and Training Club is based as a primary animal relocation area.

“While we were pleased to be able to provide an evacuation point at the showgrounds…there were many complexities involved in setting the facility up, such as maintaining separation between animals and accommodating large animals such as horses.’’

WTTC president Max Rayner said club members had really embraced the opportunity to help the community.

“We are all passionate about horses and many of our members were impacted in the last bushfires and needed to find safe places to evacuate their horses to,’’ he said.

“Everyone is much more comfortable knowing that there is a safe location with a fire break, fencing and wash-down facilities, where they can bring their horses in any future emergencies.”

The officer’s report said if Nanovich Park came under threat during an emergency then Wanneroo Showgrounds would be made available.

If both sites came under threat, the city’s capacity to provide a temporary relocation area would be exhausted and the city would require state support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), which is responsible for coordinating animal welfare in emergencies.

The state emergency management support plan for animal welfare in emergencies clarifies roles and responsibilities between the various stakeholders for the delivery of emergency response and recovery activities in relation to animal welfare in emergencies.

The support plan acknowledges that as the closest level of government to the affected community, local government also has a key role in supporting emergency animal welfare activities.

But the officer’s report said any arrangements established would not remove the responsibility of animal owners to manage the welfare of their animals during times of emergency.

“It is recommended that they first seek shelter with family or friends, rather than relying on this facility being made available,’’ the report said.

Further advice to assist the owner or carer to integrate the welfare of their animals into their emergency plans is available from the DPIRD website under animal welfare in emergencies

Nanovich Park is in a bush fire prone area with a very high risk rating.

The city said a mitigation burn was conducted in 2014 and it is included in the annual fuel reduction mitigation program with the next prescribed burn there due within the next two years.