Promoting owner responsibility for pets in disasters

Gurtner, Yetta, and Parison, Sonja (2021) Promoting owner responsibility for pets in disasters. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 36 (3). pp. 37-43.

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The issue of managing animals in the disaster context is well recognised in both research and practice. Complex human-animal relationships affect decision-making and behaviour, which can delay or prohibit effective emergency response and evacuations and motivate premature returns to unsafe conditions. The desire to safeguard animals in an emergency situation can ultimately result in human fatalities. There is extensive literature regarding the management of vulnerable wildlife or agricultural stock during hazardous events, yet the care and protection of companion animals and pets, particularly in higher density urban environments, continues to represent a significant challenge. Emergency management arrangements in Australia identify formal roles and strategies for response organisations and agencies, however, in a legal and policy perspective, individual pet owners ultimately retain responsibility for the care and welfare of their animals. Consistent with a ‘shared responsibility’ approach, individuals and households should be proactive in planning and making arrangements for their pets in an emergency. An online survey of Townsville residents was conducted to investigate pet ownership patterns, the extent of pet-inclusive disaster management planning and any identified issues in preparing and planning for companion animals in an emergency. Survey results showed that the majority of pet owner respondents were uncertain or underprepared. This paper considers existing literature and presents the survey findings to provide recommendations for greater community awareness and self sufficiency. The aim is to encourage pet-inclusive disaster management planning - particularly evacuations of pets.

Item ID: 69097
Item Type: Article (Non-Refereed Research)
ISSN: 2204-2288
Keywords: Townsville, pets in disasters, pet owner responsibility
Copyright Information: © 2021 by the authors. License Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, Melbourne, Australia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( 4.0/)
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2021 03:55
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440612 Urban geography @ 40%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440714 Urban policy @ 20%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440699 Human geography not elsewhere classified @ 40%
SEO Codes: 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1904 Natural hazards > 190499 Natural hazards not elsewhere classified @ 50%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1999 Other environmental policy, climate change and natural hazards > 199999 Other environmental policy, climate change and natural hazards not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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