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Objective—To describe epidemiologic features of pet evacuation failure after a hazardous chemical spill in which residents had no warning and only a few hours notice to evacuate.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—Pet-owning households that evacuated from a hazardous chemical spill with (n = 119) or without (122) their pets.

Procedures—Evacuees were surveyed by mail.

Results—261 of 433 (60.3%) dogs and cats in 241 households were not evacuated. Of the 241 households, 119 (49.4%) evacuated with their pets, 98 (40.7%) evacuated without them but later attempted to rescue them, and 24 (10.0%) neither evacuated their pets nor attempted to rescue them. Pet evacuation failure was most common in households that thought the evacuated area was safe for pets. Risk of pet evacuation failure increased in households with many animals, low pet attachment and commitment scores, and low levels of preparedness. Cat evacuation failure was associated with not having cat carriers. Nearly 80% of households that evacuated with their pets found accommodation with friends and family.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Pet evacuation failure was common and jeopardized pets' health and well-being. Logistical challenges to transporting pets were substantial contributors to pet evacuation failure, whereas not knowing where to house a pet was only a minor concern. Most pet owners seemed self-reliant and acted appropriately towards their pets. Such self-reliant behavior by pet owners should be encouraged prior to disasters as part of an evacuation plan for households. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001; 218:1898–1904)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine risk factors for pet evacuation failure during a flood.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—203 pet-owning households in a flooded region.

Procedures—Persons under evacuation notice because of a flood were interviewed by use of a random telephone survey.

Results—102 households evacuated with their pets, whereas 101 households evacuated without their pets. Low pet attachment and commitment scores were significantly associated with a greater chance of pet evacuation failure. Risk of pet evacuation failure and lower attachment and commitment scores were also associated with pet management practices prior to the disaster, such as dogs being kept outdoors most of the time or owners not having carriers for their cats. More than 90% of owners made housing arrangements for their pets without assistance.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Predictors of pet evacuation failure are usually present before a disaster strikes and are potentially modifiable. Mitigation of pet evacuation failure should focus on activities that reinforce responsible pet ownership and strengthen the human-animal bond, including socializing dogs, attending dog behavior training classes, transporting cats in nondisaster times, and seeking regular preventive veterinary care. Most pet owners are self-reliant in disasters, and this behavior should be encouraged. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1905–1910)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association