Mobile animal shelter recognised on national stage

Published on 10 December 2021

Tasmania's first purpose-built mobile animal shelter for use in natural disasters has had a 'December to remember', with the project being recognised twice on the national stage this month.

The City of Launceston constructed the shelter, based in in a 40-foot shipping container, to house the most at-risk animals in emergencies like bushfires and floods.

The shelter — which is designed to be easily transportable to any part of the State — boasts animal care facilities, insulation, air conditioning, LED lighting, extraction fans, running water and an administration area.

Earlier this month, the shelter won the national prize in the innovation category at the Companion Animal Rescue Awards, followed by the Tasmanian local government award at the Resilient Australia Awards.

This week the project was also recognised as a finalist in the local government category of the national Resilient Australia Awards in Melbourne.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said the project had been the brainchild of the City of Launceston's regulations team, and had been brought to life through a $23,000 National Disaster Resilience grant.

"The mobile animal shelter is designed to serve as an animal care hub during natural disasters," Mayor van Zetten said. "It has been designed and built with transportation in mind so that, within a few hours, we can have the mobile shelter on a truck and in transit to anywhere in the municipality, or indeed anywhere in the State.

"The shelter will be able to temporarily house the most at-risk animals in a natural disaster where they can be monitored and cared for.

"However, it is important for pet owners in Launceston to be mindful about what they might do with their four-legged friends in an emergency like a natural disaster.

"Our Pet Pal program encourages pet owners to make arrangements with a friend or family member to look after pets should the need arise, and this is something that's very important.

"In a natural disaster, people may not necessarily be able to take their pets with them to an evacuation centre so it's important to make arrangements in advance.

"We also know from other natural disasters in Australia in recent decades that there have been examples of people prioritising the safety of their pets above their own safety, and even putting themselves in harm's way to attempt to rescue a pet.

"That's why it's so critical to have a plan in place for your pet in an emergency. This shelter will be a fantastic asset for our community, and I hope it also prompts pet owners to start thinking about an emergency plan for their four-legged friends."