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
Received: 4 August 2020 / Revised: 4 September 2020 / Accepted: 4 September 2020 / Published: 4 September 2020
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.