You’ve been posted to a remote outback community school. Your next adventure is about to begin. But where does your pet fit into the mix?
Questions to ask before accepting the role
- Are pets allowed in community?
- Do other staff have pets in community?
- Is the teacher housing fenced and pet proof?
- Are there any things I need to consider about bringing my pet?
- Am I entitled to a pet ‘uplift’ or ‘transport’?
Getting your pet there
- You may* be entitled to uplift/transport for your pet- for example DET WA teachers are.
- Check the types of transport into your community- some are by barge or mail plane only for example and may have weight limits or limits to ‘luggage’ or pets they can allow on their vehicles. Communicate with the transport providers early on about the requirements, costs, availability.
- Driving with your pet may be the only or most appropriate way to travel- factor the extra time this may take and plan for accommodation that is pet friendly along the way. Consider buying a pet container to help confine the pet on route. This travel container may come in useful for long trips or emergencies in the future as well.
- Ask others in community with pets for advice about transport companies.
- Be aware of the ‘cheeky dogs’ in town and paths you regularly walk. Ask locals and colleagues about safe dog walking tracks.
- Learn how to separate fighting dogs and safety around vicious dogs.
- Ask locals, colleagues and rangers about where baits are laid and avoid those areas.
- Be careful where you decide to let your pets to run off lead- see risks for pets.
- Be mindful around waterholes and rivers- know the dangers in your area including crocodiles
Risks for pets
- Baits on stations, out around town and national parks
- Snake bites
- Road trains and car accidents
- Dog fights and attacks
- Children throwing things over the fence at your pet or stirring them up
- Being left in hot cars
- Heat exhaustion
- Burnt feet on very hot roads and spiky plants/glass in paws
- Tick illness- ie. Ehrlichiosis
- Disease- ie. parvo
- Pregnancy- stray dogs getting into fence
Pet health care
- Stock up on your flea, tick and worm treatments
- Make sure your pet is up to date with its vaccinations (especially Pavo)
- Ask your local town vet to do a check of your pet before you leave. They may be able to provide you with the pets records to give to a closer vet if needed.
Keeping your pet cool
Remote outback communities can have extremes of weather including hot and humid, cool and dry, big wets, and natural disasters such as fire, cylone and floods. One of the biggest challenges for your pet will be keeping it cool.
- Walk your dog early in the morning or late at night. Check the path with your hand- if it burns your hand it will burn dog’s paws. Walk in the shady, more grassy parts if that is an option. Never make your dog run around in the heat if it is showing signs of distress.
- Make sure there is adequate shade in your backyard for your pet with access to cool drinking water. Better yet, allow your pet inside during the day with airconditioning on.
- Frozen vegetables or meaty ice cubes might be a nice treat while you are at work for your pet.
- Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle, even for a moment in remotes.
- Don’t transport animals in ute trays- dogs can fall, jump or be bumped out. They risk choking and burnt feet on hot tray metal.
- Some dogs will be able to have their fur trimmed- other dogs are designed with certain fur that requires it to be longer to move heat from the body. Double check your dog’s coat type and best options with your vet before going remote or do research online.
- Consider sunscreen on lighter skinned or places with less fur.
- Watch for symptoms of heatstroke – excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, restlessness and confusion.
- If your dog is in distress apply a cold town to head, neck and chest. Provide water and move to airconditioned space. Phone your vet.
Other pet considerations
- Have a discussion with your local vet (back in your home town) about where you are going. They may be able to allow you to stock up on some of the medications that your pet may need. Ask them for a pet 1st Aid Kit or pet first aid course.
- Make sure you have the phone number to your closest vet (in the bigger town). They have been known to give great advice about pets over the phone that have saved an emergency trip or have saved the pet on the long drive in.
- Make sure you have saved the town ranger or visiting ranger number. They may have knowledge and advice that you need along the way.
- In an emergency the local hospital/medical centre may* be able to assist with advice or medication.
- Consider what to do with your pet on holidays- make friends with other pet owners in community, ask who else is staying in town who may be able to assist with pet care, look for kennels in bigger towns.
- Keep your pet confined- roaming dogs can cause issues. Stray cats left behind by the come-and-go workers breed and cause issues around town and to native wildlife.
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