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  • Author or Editor: Susan K. Voeks x
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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