Eureka Boarding Kennels owners Rob and Meg Gateley plan to build a bus that they can use to evacuate 100 dogs and cats if a bushfire threatens their Warrenheip business.
And if any other organisation within an hour or so is under threat and needs to quickly move a large number of animals, they'll drive the bus there and help out.
Mr Gateley said the bus, to be known as Meg's Ark, would complete the kennel's bushfire plans and be available to help the community.
"At a conference last year we were talking about bushfire, even before all the carnage of this summer, and another person said they had an arrangement with a local bus company that if they ever had to evacuate animals they could ring and get a bus up to do it," he said.
"I thought it was a fantastic idea but none of the bus companies up here would allow animals on their bus," he said.
"So we decided to get our own."
The kennel's current bushfire plan is to evacuate all the cats to another location and move all the dogs in to the cattery, which local CFA chiefs have said is able to be defended. But the Gateleys would be more comfortable if they were able to remove the pets they have been trusted to care for in their owners' absence to safety.
A friend who works for the Mannheim auto auction business in Altona was called on to keep an eye out for any buses coming through the auctions, and when a batch of former public transport vehicles came up he was able to get one at cost price to support the animals and the wider community.
Mr Gateley then approached Federation University's engineering department to see if they would also get on board.
"We want to put in as many cubicles and cages as we can so we can do a last minute evacuation should the need arise," he said.
The idea was presented to engineering students who are working on plans and will inspect the bus before finalising their ideas when it arrives in Ballarat in the coming weeks.
The Department of Transport will need to sign off on plans before construction begins, and Mr Gateley has approached Sebastopol Men's Shed to help with the build.
He has also applied for a community grant from the City of Ballarat to help fund the build, and hopes to amass a group of retired people with their heavy vehicle licences to make up a roster for bushfire season.
"This is about looking after not only our business but the wider community and hopefully in 20 years it will have been rolled in to a paddock and never used," he said.
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"But if we are not in crisis we will offer this up as community thing ... and we will make it available to wildlife carers, boarding kennels, vets, breeders, anyone with multiple animals in trouble around Ballarat, Geelong, Ararat, Bendigo, Ballan."
Mr Gateley envisages the bus will have larger cages on the bottom level and smaller cages on top with the aisle retained down the middle and some seating for carers.
If forced to evacuate the kennel they will drive to a safe place such as a football oval and call people to collect their animals.
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