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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 showing an inverse correlation between the strength of pet owners’ bond with their pets and the likelihood that they will evacuate their pet in both slow and rapid onset disasters [28].
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animals-05-00173-f005: Chart showing an inverse correlation between the strength of pet owners’ bond with their pets and the likelihood that they will evacuate their pet in both slow and rapid onset disasters [28].

Mentions: Pet evacuation failure (which is a form of pet abandonment), occurs when pet owners evacuate and leave their pets at home, and it has been a relatively common phenomenon in U.S. disasters (Figure 4) [25,26]. It is often erroneously attributed to inappropriate advice given by emergency management and law enforcement to leave pets behind. Although such misleading advice has been given, it has not proven to be a factor in the field or in research studies to affect pet owner’s behavior on a large scale. Research findings support that the principle reason owners leave their pets behind is because these owners have weak bonds with pets at the time of (and after) a disaster [25,26]. There are many indicators and supporting evidence for this statement. The strongest support comes from peer-reviewed research that shows that the lower an owner’s pet attachment score is the more likely they are to evacuate without their pets. Other indicators of a weak bond with pets include pets that do not have collars or visited a veterinarian in the year preceding a disaster, both of which are surrogate measures of pet attachment (Figure 5) [25,26]. Affecting this detrimental behavior for the better is difficult, but encouraging appropriate behavior is most likely to succeed through public awareness (preparedness) campaigns such as “If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your animals” and public education campaigns with advice on what pet owners can do to behave appropriately in disasters—which is to evacuate with pets. Vice versa, looking at things from a public safety perspective, knowing that the strength of the human animal bond is a strong indicator for owners behavior in disasters, advice on the right thing to do for animals positively reinforces the human animal bond and will likely encourage appropriate evacuation behavior amongst pet owners [27].


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

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

Chart showing an inverse correlation between the strength of pet owners’ bond with their pets and the likelihood that they will evacuate their pet in both slow and rapid onset disasters [28].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

animals-05-00173-f005: Chart showing an inverse correlation between the strength of pet owners’ bond with their pets and the likelihood that they will evacuate their pet in both slow and rapid onset disasters [28].
Mentions: Pet evacuation failure (which is a form of pet abandonment), occurs when pet owners evacuate and leave their pets at home, and it has been a relatively common phenomenon in U.S. disasters (Figure 4) [25,26]. It is often erroneously attributed to inappropriate advice given by emergency management and law enforcement to leave pets behind. Although such misleading advice has been given, it has not proven to be a factor in the field or in research studies to affect pet owner’s behavior on a large scale. Research findings support that the principle reason owners leave their pets behind is because these owners have weak bonds with pets at the time of (and after) a disaster [25,26]. There are many indicators and supporting evidence for this statement. The strongest support comes from peer-reviewed research that shows that the lower an owner’s pet attachment score is the more likely they are to evacuate without their pets. Other indicators of a weak bond with pets include pets that do not have collars or visited a veterinarian in the year preceding a disaster, both of which are surrogate measures of pet attachment (Figure 5) [25,26]. Affecting this detrimental behavior for the better is difficult, but encouraging appropriate behavior is most likely to succeed through public awareness (preparedness) campaigns such as “If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your animals” and public education campaigns with advice on what pet owners can do to behave appropriately in disasters—which is to evacuate with pets. Vice versa, looking at things from a public safety perspective, knowing that the strength of the human animal bond is a strong indicator for owners behavior in disasters, advice on the right thing to do for animals positively reinforces the human animal bond and will likely encourage appropriate evacuation behavior amongst pet owners [27].

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