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      Did Harvey Learn from Katrina? Initial Observations of the Response to Companion Animals during Hurricane Harvey

      research-article
      Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
      MDPI
      animals, disasters, hoarding, Hurricane Harvey

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          Abstract

          Simple Summary

          When Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf states in 2017, a large-scale rescue effort was launched by officials and citizens to rescue both people and animals. Over a decade since Hurricane Katrina (2005), this study explores whether the reforms to afford better protection to companion animals such as the Pet Emergency and Transportation Standards Act 2006 have made a difference. Key officials from various organizations within the state of Texas were interviewed and it was found that though there has been a cultural shift to better protect animals in a disaster, formal coordination and planning mechanisms need further attention. This study also uncovered the first empirical observation of disaster hoarding where such persons used the disaster to replenish their animal stocks. This study will be of interest to those involved in emergency management and animal welfare.

          Abstract

          The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 became the genesis of animal emergency management and created significant reforms in the US particularly the passage of the Pets Emergency and Transportation Standards Act in 2006 that required state and local emergency management arrangements to be pet- and service animal-inclusive. More than a decade later Hurricane Harvey struck the Gulf states with all 68 directly related deaths occurring in the state of Texas. In this study, six key officials involved in the response underwent a semi-structured interview to investigate the impact of the PETS Act on preparedness and response. Though the results have limitations due to the low sample size, it was found that the PETS Act and the lessons of Hurricane Katrina had contributed to a positive cultural shift to including pets (companion animals) in emergency response. However, there was a general theme that plans required under the PETS Act were under-developed and many of the animal response lessons from previous emergencies remain unresolved. The study also observed the first empirical case of disaster hoarding which highlights the need for animal law enforcement agencies to be active in emergency response.

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          Most cited references24

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          Analysis of media agenda setting during and after Hurricane Katrina: implications for emergency preparedness, disaster response, and disaster policy.

          Media agenda setting refers to the deliberate coverage of topics or events with the goal of influencing public opinion and public policy. We conducted a quantitative content analysis of 4 prominent newspapers to examine how the media gathered and distributed news to shape public policy priorities during Hurricane Katrina. The media framed most Hurricane Katrina stories by emphasizing government response and less often addressing individuals' and communities' level of preparedness or responsibility. Hence, more articles covered response and recovery than mitigation and preparation. The newspapers studied focused significantly more on government response than on key public health roles in disaster management. We discuss specific implications for public health professionals, policymakers, and mass media so that, in the future, coordination can be enhanced among these entities before, during, and after disasters occur.
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            Risk factors for pet evacuation failure after a slow-onset disaster.

            To determine risk factors for pet evacuation failure during a flood.
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              Evacuation of Pets During Disasters: A Public Health Intervention to Increase Resilience

              During a disaster, many pet owners want to evacuate their pets with them, only to find that evacuation and sheltering options are limited or nonexistent. This disregard for companion animal welfare during a disaster can have public health consequences. Pet owners may be stranded at home, unwilling to leave their pets behind. Others refuse evacuation orders or attempt to reenter evacuation sites illegally to rescue their animals. Psychopathologies such as grief, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder are associated with pet abandonment during an evacuation. Health care workers may refuse to work if their animals are in danger, leaving medical facilities understaffed during crises. Zoonotic disease risk increases when pets are abandoned or left to roam, where they are more likely to encounter infected wildlife or unowned animals than they would if they were safely sheltered with their owners. These sequelae are not unique to the United States, nor to wealthy countries. Emergency planning for companion animals during disasters is a global need in communities with a significant pet population, and will increase resilience and improve public health.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animals (Basel)
                Animals (Basel)
                animals
                Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
                MDPI
                2076-2615
                30 March 2018
                April 2018
                : 8
                : 4
                : 47
                Affiliations
                Public Safety Institute of New Zealand, P.O. Box 216, Wellington 6140, New Zealand; steve@ 123456publicsafety.institute ; Tel.: +64-210-278-8930
                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3957-5528
                Article
                animals-08-00047
                10.3390/ani8040047
                5946131
                29601478
                b17fbb4b-8cc9-45c2-955e-ade752069a6a
                © 2018 by the author.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 13 March 2018
                : 28 March 2018
                Categories
                Article

                animals,disasters,hoarding,hurricane harvey
                animals, disasters, hoarding, hurricane harvey

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