Epidemiologic study of cats and dogs affected by the 1991 Oakland fire

Sebastian E. Heath From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Heath, Kass, Hart); and the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline, 150 11th, San Mateo, CA 94401 (Zompolis).

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Phil Kass From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Heath, Kass, Hart); and the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline, 150 11th, San Mateo, CA 94401 (Zompolis).

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Lynette Hart From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Heath, Kass, Hart); and the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline, 150 11th, San Mateo, CA 94401 (Zompolis).

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Greg Zompolis From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Heath, Kass, Hart); and the Oakland Firestorm Pet Hotline, 150 11th, San Mateo, CA 94401 (Zompolis).

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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)

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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