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Open AccessArticle

Challenges of Managing Animals in Disasters in the U.S.

Program Development and Analysis, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Washington, DC 20472, USA
Retired from College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2015, 5(2), 173-192;
Received: 8 July 2014 / Revised: 30 October 2014 / Accepted: 15 February 2015 / Published: 26 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Management Following Natural Disasters)
This article describes common challenges to managing animals in disasters in the US, summarizes how some of these challenges are being met and makes recommendations on how to overcome others. Many predictable adverse situations affecting animals and their owners can be prevented when communities develop a comprehensive emergency management strategy that integrates animal care into planning, preparedness, mitigation, and recovery activities, as well as response.
Common to many of the repeated issues surrounding animals in disasters in the U.S. is a pre-existing weak animal health infrastructure that is under constant pressure resulting from pet overpopulation. Unless this root cause is addressed, communities remain vulnerable to similar issues with animals they and others have faced in past disasters. In the US the plight of animals in disasters is frequently viewed primarily as a response issue and frequently handled by groups that are not integrated with the affected community’s emergency management. In contrast, animals, their owners, and communities would greatly benefit from integrating animal issues into an overall emergency management strategy for the community. There is no other factor contributing as much to human evacuation failure in disasters that is under the control of emergency management when a threat is imminent as pet ownership. Emergency managers can take advantage of the bond people have with their animals to instill appropriate behavior amongst pet owners in disasters. View Full-Text
Keywords: animals; disaster; emergency management; planning; preparedness; mitigation; response; recovery; pet overpopulation animals; disaster; emergency management; planning; preparedness; mitigation; response; recovery; pet overpopulation
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Heath, S.E.; Linnabary, R.D. Challenges of Managing Animals in Disasters in the U.S.. Animals 2015, 5, 173-192.

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