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


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


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


Retrospective cohort study.


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


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


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
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)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association