Milford resident Sami Thompson brought a sleepless night away from home because I had to move to the neighbor’s house down the street.
After first noticing the flooding around 7pm, she followed neighbors advice and left her home with her 16-month-old border collie Arlo, who weighs 20kg, through chest-deep water.
“The current was so strong, the water was so dirty. It was terrifying,” she said.
While Thomspon was shocked by the experience, she said Arlo behaved well by sniffing her neck and his “little paws trying to wade through the water”.
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Born and raised in Auckland, she had never experienced anything like it. She said more information would have been helpful, especially for pet owners.
With the floodwaters receding Saturday morning, she was now cleaning up the property, including removing broken fences and repairing the dog kennel.
Arlo was recovering from the nap ordeal, and Thompson thought about going with him.
Not all pet owners were able to take their animals with them, with some neighbors finding animals lost in the confusion.
Mangere resident Bella Hotene was able to stay in her house last night because it was slightly elevated. She and her whānau were joined by a stray dog who was found whining at the back door.
A little nervous about the “big dog” she decided it was friendly and she just wanted a warm and dry place for the night so let him in.
She said several neighbors’ houses were flooded – “You couldn’t see any ground – just their house in the middle of a pool” – and thought this was why the dog had come to their property.
The dog, named Lola, was later picked up by her owner who had been evacuated from their flooded home a few blocks away.
Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March also found himself temporarily caring for a stranger’s dog before being evacuated from his home in Mt Eden.
Jordan Clark and a quartet of friends tried to rescue about 20 sheep abandoned on rapidly shrinking higher ground in a neighbor’s pasture near Waimauku.
The nearby cattle had been brought up the hill, but Clark found the sheep stranded in rising floodwaters.
“[The ground] disappeared and became smaller and smaller.”
He and his friends got out two kayaks, two of which helped unload them and another helped pull the swampy sheep onto the barges.
“It felt like the right thing to do,” said Clark.
They managed to get eight sheep to safety, but as the water rose it became too strong and trapped the others in a crack.
Clark later learned that the sheep’s owners were unable to move them because they were stranded trying to help another neighbor move their livestock.
“It felt good to be able to help.”
Laura Schwerdtfeger, director and veterinarian of The Lifestyle Vet, expected that hundreds of animals would need medical attention after the flood.
The clinic in Waimauku had spent most of the morning handling calls and bringing in some animals, including a sheep found five meters high in a tree after the floodwaters receded. The rest of the herd died.
She said animals may be suffering from hypothermia, water aspiration and lung consolidation, debris injuries and weakness or inability to stand from severe muscle fatigue associated with walking through water for extended periods.
Animal owners were encouraged to check the animals’ temperature and for labored breathing.
The clinic also helped coordinate the removal and disposal of any dead animals found, as this posed a further health risk.
Auckland Zoo has closed to the public after a rain event that director Kevin Buley called “unprecedented” in the zoo’s 100-year history.
“We have the creek that flows through the zoo, which is usually an idyllic stream … but when the rainwater comes, it becomes a raging stream.”
By about 7:30 p.m. Friday, the banks had broken and at points he said zoo staff were “deep in the water” as the team worked to make sure all the animals were safe.
The team was aware of the bad weather forecast which allowed them to do so secure ‘dangerous animals’, such as the zoo’s tigers and lions. Some animals had moved, including the alligators that live in the area next to the creek, Buley said.
Auckland Zoo is closed this weekend as the grounds have been “significantly affected by the amount of rain” on Friday.
Gabby Clezy, CEO of the SPCA, said it is in close contact with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), which is coordinating emergency assistance for moving animals in these situations.
Our inspectors [are] only respond to urgent welfare issues – however, we will remain close to the situation and will try to provide assistance where possible during and after this emergency.
Tony Sutorius, Chairman of New Zealand animal evacuation a charity dedicated to animal disaster management, said MPI has not sought to use their services as it appeared Auckland council had its hands on the matter.
Two-thirds of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and historically speaking worry about their care has been the biggest factor in the failure of evacuations, Sutorius said.
People who need emergency care for their pets can contact MPI on 0800 00 83 33
Here is a link with tips on what to do if you lost your pet – talk to neighbours, use lostpet.co.nzalong with checking the companion anial register. Social media is also a powerful tool to deploy when your pet goes missing.