Control measure knowledge

Animals can swim to varying degrees, but may tire quickly and may not swim in a safe direction.

It may be possible to rescue smaller animals with a reach option, using specialist equipment such as nets or graspers. Emergency responders should exercise extreme caution when trying to get an animal, such as a dog, into a boat; suitable restraint and containment equipment should be used at all times.

By using inflated hoses, throwlines or other means, large animals, such as equines and bovines, can be driven or guided towards their herd, higher ground or another place of safety. This may need to be done if there are multiple animals in a flood situation, where it would not be feasible to rescue each animal. Equines and bovines will require a shallow incline to exit water, but may have to be extricated using manual manipulation or mechanical techniques.

If an animal has walked onto ice and fallen through it into water, it may be necessary to form a channel to use as a rescue path, using ice-breaking equipment. Carrying this out prior to attempting a rescue will help emergency responders trying to lead or herd the animal to a place of safety.

If carrying out an animal rescue on or near unstable ground, including mud flats, the provision of rescue paths for access and egress need to be carefully planned and implemented.

Before extricating the animal from water, ice or unstable ground, check that it is not entangled below the surface. Its limbs should be checked, to ensure they are not in an expected position. Failure to do these checks before moving or lifting the animal could result in further injury to it. If it has been entangled, the hazard knowledge and control measures for dealing with an Entangled animal will apply.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider providing appropriate specialist equipment for rescuing animals from water, ice or unstable ground

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Consider using appropriate specialist equipment for rescuing an animal from water, ice or unstable ground

  • Ensure that caution is exercised when using tools to extricate an animal submerged in water, ice or unstable ground

  • Check the animal for entanglement or unexpected limb positions prior to extrication