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