In the last few years the RSPCA has, alongside emergency services and local authorities, assisted in the rescuing of residents and pets in flood-hit communities around the country. Many of the people rescued would not have left their homes had the safety of their pets not been assured.

While human welfare will always remain the priority, there must be consideration for people’s animals. Indeed, examples from emergencies in both the UK and overseas in the last few years, have shown that human safety and public order issues can arise if contingency plans don’t prepare for animal welfare.

Awareness of preparedness with regard to animals has grown significantly in the last few years and there has been a concurrent rise in the number
of entries for this footprint. These entries have provided some excellent case studies that we hope will encourage many more to consider animals – and more specifically companion animals – in their plans.

Entry Criteria

The aim of this Footprint is to encourage local resilience forums (LRFs) and their member authorities to consider animal welfare by recognising those that have, with the involvement of animal welfare organisations, considered, planned and practised situations that involve the rescue and/or evacuation of both domestic and commercially owned pets. It also aims to remind local authorities of the importance of considering animals when planning for their owners.

The Contingency Planning Footprint is open to all LRFs and local authorities in England and Wales.

For further information see the RSPCA’s publication: Contingency planning and animal welfare – a guide to good practice, Community Animal Welfare Footprints.

Evidence of
  • Locations identified as temporary animal shelters with a pet evacuation plan.
    • This will ensure, if animals need to be removed, that there is a plan for where they can be housed safely and securely.
  • Information on the website for pet owners that promotes preparedness, or a link to another website that does.
    • This would include a checklist on what steps both commercial and non-commercial animal owners should take to ensure they are prepared in an emergency. This should be displayed through the LRF’s and/or the member authorities’ websites.
  • The establishment of a contact list of animal welfare organisations and local vets who can assist in an emergency situation, and liaison with these.
    • Advance liaison means that welfare organisations and vets are likely to be better prepared to respond in an emergency. The contact information is likely to be gathered by individual member authorities but should be collated by the LRF.
  • Companion animal welfare included in written contingency plans.
    • There is a human health element to ensuring that pets and other animals are considered. It is easier to evacuate people from their homes if they know their animals are going to be safe. It also reduces the likelihood of owners taking a risk by returning home to rescue their animals
All of Bronze, plus evidence of
  • The involvement of animal welfare organisations in contingency exercises and planning meetings.
    • This will ensure that animals are a consideration in all contingency planning.
  • Support for establishments involved with large numbers of animals in drawing up their contingency plans.
    • This will help the local authority, stakeholders and animal establishments such as pet shops and boarding establishments. This does not necessarily mean writing the individual plans on their behalf, but rather providing general guidance and some officer support.
  • The running of at least one tabletop exercise every two years specifically involving a companion animal welfare element.
    • This will improve the speed and safety with which animals are protected.
  • Evidence that advice is provided, by the local authority, to allotment holders (where applicable) concerning the care of any animals an an emergency scenario.
All of Bronze and Silver, plus evidence of
  • Ownership of, or access to, at least 50 kennel spaces or vari-kennels between members of the LRF, for use in an emergency.
    • This will help operational staff to be more flexible when setting up an emergency reception centre.
  • Proactive work, such as an awareness campaign, to ensure pet owners are prepared should they be evacuated.
    • Many pet owners may never have considered what they might need, or need to do, in an emergency. Proactive work to promote the need for preparedness will ensure both animal welfare and speed of evacuation in an emergency.
  • At least one live exercise every three years specifically involving a companion animal welfare element. This will help operational staff to be more flexible when setting up an emergency reception centre.
    • Exercises involving animal welfare will help to ensure a smoother delivery of service when needed.

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