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Challenges of Managing Animals in Disasters in the U.S.

Heath SE, Linnabary RD - Animals (Basel) (2015)

Bottom Line: Unless this root cause is addressed, communities remain vulnerable to similar issues with animals they and others have faced in past disasters.There is no other factor contributing as much to human evacuation failure in disasters that is under the control of emergency management when a threat is imminent as pet ownership.Emergency managers can take advantage of the bond people have with their animals to instill appropriate behavior amongst pet owners in disasters.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Program Development and Analysis, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Washington, DC 20472, USA. 1952heath@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT
Common to many of the repeated issues surrounding animals in disasters in the U.S. is a pre-existing weak animal health infrastructure that is under constant pressure resulting from pet overpopulation. Unless this root cause is addressed, communities remain vulnerable to similar issues with animals they and others have faced in past disasters. In the US the plight of animals in disasters is frequently viewed primarily as a response issue and frequently handled by groups that are not integrated with the affected community's emergency management. In contrast, animals, their owners, and communities would greatly benefit from integrating animal issues into an overall emergency management strategy for the community. There is no other factor contributing as much to human evacuation failure in disasters that is under the control of emergency management when a threat is imminent as pet ownership. Emergency managers can take advantage of the bond people have with their animals to instill appropriate behavior amongst pet owners in disasters.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Chart correlating the likelihood of pet owners not evacuating with the number of pets owned and whether the household has children [21].
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animals-05-00173-f003: Chart correlating the likelihood of pet owners not evacuating with the number of pets owned and whether the household has children [21].

Mentions: Local ordinances can also mitigate animal disasters by enacting strong animal control laws and backing this up with enforcement. For example, ordinances that implement effective spay-neuter programs for dogs and cats would reduce the number of strays in a community, which in turn likely reduces the number of stray animals that emerge in the wake of disasters. Regulations limiting the number of animals people can keep also establishes expectations for the public to limit the number of animals under their care to a reasonable span of control. Such laws create a mindset amongst animal owners that they should not own more animals than they can take care of, especially considering the potential consequences of disasters. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the number of animals in a household and the chance of those pet owners not evacuating, Figure 3 [21,22]. Furthermore, restricting the number of animals that can be housed in a household prevents the potential for animal neglect. As animal neglect is in part defined as placing animals in unsafe and dangerous environments, one can assume that when people are told to evacuate during a disaster it is because the environment is unsafe and dangerous. When people house more animals than they can care for, when they leave animals behind during an evacuation, they expose these animals to unsafe environments, and therefore are subjecting the animals to neglect. When people try to provide for too many animals with limited resources they are living on the brink of disaster in which animals could suffer when, in disasters, resources that are already under limited supply become further constrained.


Challenges of Managing Animals in Disasters in the U.S.

Heath SE, Linnabary RD - Animals (Basel) (2015)

Chart correlating the likelihood of pet owners not evacuating with the number of pets owned and whether the household has children [21].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4494405&req=5

animals-05-00173-f003: Chart correlating the likelihood of pet owners not evacuating with the number of pets owned and whether the household has children [21].
Mentions: Local ordinances can also mitigate animal disasters by enacting strong animal control laws and backing this up with enforcement. For example, ordinances that implement effective spay-neuter programs for dogs and cats would reduce the number of strays in a community, which in turn likely reduces the number of stray animals that emerge in the wake of disasters. Regulations limiting the number of animals people can keep also establishes expectations for the public to limit the number of animals under their care to a reasonable span of control. Such laws create a mindset amongst animal owners that they should not own more animals than they can take care of, especially considering the potential consequences of disasters. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the number of animals in a household and the chance of those pet owners not evacuating, Figure 3 [21,22]. Furthermore, restricting the number of animals that can be housed in a household prevents the potential for animal neglect. As animal neglect is in part defined as placing animals in unsafe and dangerous environments, one can assume that when people are told to evacuate during a disaster it is because the environment is unsafe and dangerous. When people house more animals than they can care for, when they leave animals behind during an evacuation, they expose these animals to unsafe environments, and therefore are subjecting the animals to neglect. When people try to provide for too many animals with limited resources they are living on the brink of disaster in which animals could suffer when, in disasters, resources that are already under limited supply become further constrained.

Bottom Line: Unless this root cause is addressed, communities remain vulnerable to similar issues with animals they and others have faced in past disasters.There is no other factor contributing as much to human evacuation failure in disasters that is under the control of emergency management when a threat is imminent as pet ownership.Emergency managers can take advantage of the bond people have with their animals to instill appropriate behavior amongst pet owners in disasters.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Program Development and Analysis, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Washington, DC 20472, USA. 1952heath@gmail.com.

ABSTRACT
Common to many of the repeated issues surrounding animals in disasters in the U.S. is a pre-existing weak animal health infrastructure that is under constant pressure resulting from pet overpopulation. Unless this root cause is addressed, communities remain vulnerable to similar issues with animals they and others have faced in past disasters. In the US the plight of animals in disasters is frequently viewed primarily as a response issue and frequently handled by groups that are not integrated with the affected community's emergency management. In contrast, animals, their owners, and communities would greatly benefit from integrating animal issues into an overall emergency management strategy for the community. There is no other factor contributing as much to human evacuation failure in disasters that is under the control of emergency management when a threat is imminent as pet ownership. Emergency managers can take advantage of the bond people have with their animals to instill appropriate behavior amongst pet owners in disasters.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus