After a storm, RSPCA often records a spike in the number of calls about lost pets. We’ve heard terrible stories of dogs jumping through windows to escape loud noises, or over fences that would normally contain them. It takes just a quick scroll through social media to see how storms affect local animals. In Dunsborough alone, there are 10 to 15 posts per week on lost and found pages, with many owners telling how their animals have fled during storms. In light of this, we are sharing some tips on how to protect your pet from harm or distress during a storm, and what to do in the unfortunate event that they go missing. BE PREPARED An up-to-date microchip and ID tag with your details will provide you with the best chance of being reunited with your pet if they escape. Of all the strays who came into RSPCA WA care last financial year, less than half were able to be reunited with their owners. In most cases, this was because they had no microchip, or the details were out of date. It’s simple to check your pet’s microchip online at petaddress. com.au. If you don’t know your pet’s microchip ID, contact your council or vet for help scanning the chip. If bad weather is forecast, check your fences and gates are secure, and tie down any loose objects in your backyard, such as trampolines. RSPCA would always suggest bringing your pet indoors during a storm – even if it’s just to a bathroom or laundry. If your pet must remain outside, make sure they have access to weatherproof shelter which is raised off the ground to prevent flooding. If you know your pet is very fearful of thunderstorms, chat with your vet about treatment options. Natural products like Feliway for cats, or Adaptil for dogs, could help calm your pet. DURING THE STORM Provide access to a safe area where your pet may feel more at ease. Animals usually indicate their preferences, such as under a bed or inside a wardrobe. Close bird cages, rabbit hutches and other fixed enclosures, and ensure the pet door and windows are closed. Attempt to engage, distract and reassure your pet that everything is OK. Importantly, do not punish your pet for exhibiting this behaviour during times of stress. Never tether your pets if they are outside during a storm, as this can lead to injury. To protect livestock and horses from wild weather and flooding, move them to paddocks with high ground and plenty of trees or a man-made shelter. LOST PETS: If your pet does go missing during a storm, keep calm and start searching immediately. Thoroughly check your property, then notify neighbours, and ask them to keep an eye out for any sighting. Check places your pet visits regularly, and enlist help from family and friends to search. Bring along your pet’s favourite toys to help lure them out – especially it’s a squeaky toy. For cats, shake biscuits to attract their attention. Contact local councils, vets and animal shelters, and create posters to place in prominent areas around your neighbourhood. Social media is a fantastic tool for getting information and photos of your pet out to the wider community. Remember, pets have been known to show up months after going missing, so please don’t give up. RSPCA WA South West Inspector Genna Haines: Having an animal go missing during a storm is very distressing for the owner and the animal. It’s terrible to see posts about lost pets on social media and how helpless this can make pet owners feel. If your pet doesn’t have an ID tag on their collar, or if you haven’t checked their microchip details are up to date, please let this be your reminder. The dog pictured in Boyo, who went missing during a recent storm, much to the distress of his owner Susie. Thankfully, Boyo was microchipped and registered. With help from the community, he was found three days later around 5km from home.