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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective

To identify risk factors of pets affected by the 1991 Oakland, Calif fire for being lost, found, adopted, or reunited with owners.

Design

Retrospective cohort study.

Animals

1,075 cats and 197 dogs affected by the fire and 221 cats and 128 dogs not affected by the fire.

Procedures

Records compiled from 1991 to 1995 by the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline were analyzed.

Results

Peak activity for the hotline was on days 3 and 4 after the fire, but decreased to a low, steady rate by day 21. Many pets were found that had been abandoned or were part of a large free-roaming population that existed at the time of the fire. Many were missing after the fire and presumed killed. The longer owners delayed looking for their pet, the lower the chance of being reunited. Pets wearing collars with the owners' names and addresses had a more than 10-fold chance of being reunited, compared with pets without collars. Increasing odds for adoption of lost pets was associated with their proximity to the fire.

Clinical Implications

Hotlines set up after sudden impact disasters, such as the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline, will probably register primarily abandoned animals. Reunion of pets with their owners appears to be most likely for those that receive an overall better level of care than pets found at other times. Adoption of pets after this disaster was primarily by the person who found that animal and principally resulted when the pet was found close to the disaster area. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998; 212:504-511)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

The veterinary profession has a unique responsibility to animals during the final stages of their lives. The veterinarian’s obligations extend to humane endings, involving all species of animals in a range of circumstances including, but not limited to, euthanasia of individually owned animals, euthanasia of animals for research purposes, depopulation of animals during emergencies, and slaughter of animals raised for food. The veterinary profession continues to improve animal welfare through advances in end-of-life decision-making and humane killing techniques, but the psychological impacts on veterinarians have not received the same level of consideration. Building on the influential AVMA Humane Endings Guideline, the AVMA recognizes that support for the mental health of veterinarians engaged in such activities needs to be a priority. This article aims to provide the foundation and rationale for improved preparation and establishment of sustainable mental health resources and to offer recommendations on pragmatic solutions to support and prepare veterinary professionals as leaders impacted by participation in humane endings–related activities. While end-of-life decision-making and implementation may present mental health challenges to veterinarians, it is crucial to recognize that there are stressors specific to each situation and that every individual’s experience is valid. Addressing the mental health issues surrounding the decision-making process and implementation of humane endings activities start with a comprehensive understanding of each activity’s unique context and the veterinarian’s leadership role. Therefore, this article highlights the psychological impact of depopulation and its similarities and exclusive challenges compared with euthanasia and humane slaughter.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association