A Study of Pet Rescue in Two Disasters

November 2000 (VOL. 18, NO. 3)

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Pet rescue endanger public and animal health in disasters and are a direct consequence of pet evacuation failure. This study characterized pet rescue attempts in two disasters. A random digit dial telephone survey was conducted of 397 households in Yuba County, California, where residents were under an evacuation notice due to flooding. A mail survey was conducted of 241 households in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, where residents evacuated from a hazardous chemical spill. Risk factors for pet rescue were identified using multivariate logistic regression. Case households were defined as those that evacuated without pets and later attempted to rescue them, while control households were those that evacuated without their pet and did not attempt a rescue. Approximately 20 percent and 50 percent of pet-owning households that evacuated failed to take their pet with them in Yuba County and Weyauwega, respectively: Approximately 80 percent of persons who reentered the evacuated area did so to rescue their pet. Attempts to rescue a pet were most common by households with children. Predisaster planning should, therefore, place a higher priority on facilitating pet evacuation so as to minimize the subsequent need to rescue pets.