WHEN relocating people to safety in fire or flood situations, emergency service workers are finding people who refuse to leave without their pets.
The growing need to consider animals and their owners in all stages of disaster management is being studied by Dr Melanie Taylor and Dr Penny Burns, from the University of Western Sydney’s School of Medicine.
The study seeks pet owners’ views on how they might prepare and respond in floods, bushfires, cyclones and other natural disasters.
There is already anecdotal evidence of the challenges pet owners and emergency service personnel face during disaster preparation, evacuations and recovery. There is a need to understand how pet owners prepare for disasters so emergency services can improve communications regarding the actions of pet owners.
The study is called Pets and People, Preparedness for Disasters.
The survey covers the pre- planning, response and recovery stages of disaster from the perspective of pet owners and includes consideration of the bond people have with their pets.
Information will be collected from those who have experienced disasters with pets, including what they did and where they went. The study also seeks the views of pet owners who haven’t experienced a natural disaster first hand.
Researchers will assess the extent to which pet owners are prepared, the role pets play around evacuation decisionmaking, how owners manage their pets at the time and post- disaster and how this may impact on owners’ wellbeing.
The study aims to build a case to support animals and owners in these situations; highlighting the importance of the human- animal bond, the welfare of animals and the wellbeing of pet owners.
While not wanting to distress anyone who has been affected by the recent bushfires, there may be some who are happy to tell their story and others who are concerned for those affected and willing to take part in the survey in support.
• To participate or find out more information, visit the online survey: surveymonkey. com/ s/ pets- andpeople- preparedness- for- disasters