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Legal Complexities of Entry, Rescue, Seizure and Disposal of Disaster-Affected Companion Animals in New Zealand

School of Social Sciences, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1583;
Received: 4 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 4 September 2020 / Published: 4 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Legal Aspects of the Human-Animal Relationship)
Companion animals are increasingly seen as a valued member of the family unit, and when disaster strikes their guardians often act protectively of them even at the risk to human safety. This behaviour has been observed in numerous disasters and as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the United States passed specific federal law to protect companion and service animals in a bid to acknowledge that in doing so it would also benefit the wellbeing and safety of its citizens. This article explores the effectiveness of current legislative arrangements in New Zealand with a focus on powers to seize and dispose of companion animals during and following an emergency, as well as other legal considerations for public safety. Though specific to New Zealand, the recommendations provide generic considerations that may enhance the legislative frameworks in other countries to improve both animal and human safety and wellbeing.
With the increasing societal expectation that animals are afforded greater protection in emergencies, the legal process from entering a property to rescuing a companion animal, through to how to dispose of such animals if they remain unclaimed has not been well examined in New Zealand. It is hypothesised that the legal framework for such a response is flawed. In this study, each phase of animal disaster rescue is evaluated against four key statutes that may apply in each phase, in that does any statute provide clear end-to-end provisions with clear legal authority to do so? The study found that all statutes evaluated contained flaws and that the current legal provisions are insufficient to provide clear authority for the sequential process of undertaking the rescue of animals during emergencies. A major flaw was discovered in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, a key statute, that provided for the seizure of property and animals but omitted a procedure for the disposal of such seized things leaving them all in legal limbo. It is recommended that animal disaster laws be updated to be more animal inclusive. The method also may be applicable to assist evaluating animal disaster management legal frameworks in other countries. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal; disaster; emergency; law; rescue; welfare; seizure; disposal animal; disaster; emergency; law; rescue; welfare; seizure; disposal
MDPI and ACS Style

Glassey, S. Legal Complexities of Entry, Rescue, Seizure and Disposal of Disaster-Affected Companion Animals in New Zealand. Animals 2020, 10, 1583.

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