Companion animals and disasters: The role of Human Services Organisations
Keywords:Animals, disasters, social work, human services, social work education
INTRODUCTION: Companion animals have often been treated as an afterthought, or ignored, by those involved in planning for and responding to disasters. This omission in planning for the needs of companion animals has been predicated upon a failure to recognise the emotional bond between many people and their companion animals. This has resulted in significant costs for humans and animals in many disasters. This article serves to raise issues regarding the responsibilities of human service organisations (HSOs) for animal-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR).
METHOD: This article develops a conceptual base for the consideration of the inclusion of animals in disaster planning and response within human services organisations. By first establishing the legitimacy of the human–animal bond and the requirement for human services organisations to develop their disaster planning, an exploration of the literature explores the rationale for the inclusion of companion animals within DRR.
FINDINGS AND IMPLICATIONS: A clearly demonstrated relationship between DRR and the presence of companion animals is evidenced within the literature. Delays in evacuation due to the lack of facilities for companion animals, the loss and grief experienced by those forced to abandon their animals, and the particular vulnerabilities of those living in isolation or in homeless situations attest to the importance of animal-inclusive planning. Those living with animals may be more inclined to commit to DRR if the needs of their animals are included in planning. A mandate for organisational and professional responsibility for the inclusion of companion animals is established.
CONCLUSION: For effective DRR, human services organisations have a professional and ethical imperative to include companion animals in their disaster planning and response.
Antonacopoulos, N. M. D., & Pychyl, T. A. (2010). An examination of the potential role of pet ownership, human social support and pet attachment in the psychological health of individuals living alone. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 23, 37-54.
Austing, J. (2013). Shelter from the storm: Companion animal emergency planning in nine states. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 40(4), 185-210.
Appleby, M. C., & Stokes, T. (2008). Why should we care about nonhuman animals during times of crisis? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 11(2), 90-97. doi:10.1080/10888700801925612
Awadi, H. A., Hunt, M., & Johnson, M. (2008). Psychological sequelae of pet loss following Hurricane Katrina. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 21, 109-121.
Coombs, S., Eberlein, A., Mantata, K., Turnhout, A., & Smith, C. M. (2015). Did dog ownership influence perceptions of adult health and wellbeing during and following the Canterbury earthquakes? A qualitative study. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 19(2), 67-76.
Corin, C. (2011). The Christchurch hospital social work service response in the first hours after the Christchurch earthquake of 22nd February 2011. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 23(3), 58-62.
DeGue, S. (2011). A triad of family violence: Examining overlap in the abuse of children, partners and pets. In C. Blazina, G. Boyraz, & D. Shen-Miller (Eds.), The psychology of the human–animal bond (pp. 245-262). New York, NY: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-9761-6_14
Donohue, K. M. (2005). Pet loss: Implications for social work practice. Social Work, 50(2), 187-190. doi:10.1093/sw/50.2.187
Edmonds, A. S., & Cutter, S. L. (2008). Planning for pet evacuations during disasters. Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, 5(1), 1-20.
Evans, N., & Gray, C. (2012). The practice and ethics of animal-assisted therapy with children and young people: Is it enough that we don't eat our co-workers? British Journal of Social Work, 42(4), 600-617. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcr091
Evans, N., & Perez-y-Perez, M. (2013). Will Marley come home? An exploration of the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on people's relationships with their companion animals. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 25(2), 7-17.
Ellis, C. (2007b). Katrina and the cat: Responding to society's expendables. Cultural Studies Critical Methodologies, 7(2), 188-201. doi:10.1177/1532708606288652
Glassey, S. (2010). Recommendations to enhance companion animal
emergency management in New Zealand. (No. 1.0). Wellington, New Zealand: Mercalli Disaster Management Consulting.
Glassey, S., & Wilson, T. (2011). Animal welfare impact following the 4 September 2010 Canterbury (Darfield) earthquake. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies, 2011(2), 49-59.
Hall, M. J., Ng, A., Ursano, R. J., Holloway, H., Fullerton, C., & Casper, J. (2004). Psychological Impact of the animal-human bond in disaster preparedness and response. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 10(6), 368-374.
Heath, S. E., Kass, P. H., Beck, A. M., & Glickman, L. T. (2001). Human and pet-related risk factors for household evacuation failure during a natural disaster. American Journal of Epidemiology, 153(7), 659-665. doi:10.1093/aje/153.7.659
Heath, S. E., & Linnabary, R. D. (2015). Challenges of managing animals in disasters in the U.S. Animals, 5(2), 173-192. doi:10.3390/ani5020173
Hesterberg, U. W., Huertas, G., & Appleby, M. C. (2012). Perceptions of pet owners in urban Latin America on protection of their animals during disasters. Disaster Prevention and Management, 21(1), 37-50. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.auckland.ac.nz/10.1108/09653561211202692
Hunt, M. G., Bogue, K., & Rohrbaugh, N. (2012). Pet ownership and evacuation prior to Hurricane Irene. Animals, 2(4), 529-539. doi:10.3390/ani2040529
International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). (2014). Global definition of social work. http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work/
Irvine, L. (2006). Animals in disasters: Issues for animal liberation activism and policy. Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal, 4(1), 1-16.
King, L. C., & Werner, P. D. (2011). Attachment, social support, and responses following the death of a companion animal. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 64(2), 119-141.
Lowe, S. R., Rhodes, J. E., Zwiebach, L., & Chan, C. S. (2009). The impact of pet loss on the perceived social support and psychological distress of hurricane survivors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22(3), 244-247.
McDonald, S. E., Collins, E. A., Nicotera, N., Hageman, T. O., Ascione, F. R., Williams, J. H., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2015). Children’s experiences of companion animal maltreatment in households characterized by intimate partner violence. Child Abuse & Neglect, 50, 116-127. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.10.005
Melson, G. F. (2003). Child development and the human-companion animal bond. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(1), 31-39. doi:10.1177/0002764203255210
Mike, M., Mike, R., & Lee, C. (2011). Katrina’s animal legacy: The Pets Act. Journal of Animal Law and Ethics, 4(1), 133-160.
Mills, K. (2015). Animal attachment and disaster resilience in vulnerable communities. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 20(2), 60-61.
Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management. (2010). Welfare in an emergency director’s guideline for civil defence emergency management groups [DGL 11/10]. (No. 1.0). Wellington, New Zealand: Author.
Morley, C., & Fook, J. (2005). The importance of pet loss and some implications for services. Mortality, 10(2), 127-143. doi:10.1080/13576270412331329849
Neal, J. W., & Zachary P. (2013). Nested or networked? Future directions for ecological systems theory. Social Development, 22(4), 722-737. doi:10.1111/sode.12018
Palika, L. (2006). When disaster strikes…. Dog World, 91(2), 39-43.
Peacock, J., Chur-Hansen, A., & Winefield, H. (2012). Mental health implications of human attachment to companion animals. Journal of Clinical
Psychology, 68(3), 292-303. doi:10.1002/jclp.20866
Potts, A., & Gadenne, D. (2014). Animals in emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes. Christchurch, New Zealand: Canterbury University Press.
Risley-Curtiss, C. (2010). Social work practitioners and the human--companion animal bond: A national study. Social Work, 55(1), 38-46.
Risley-Curtiss, C., Holley, L. C., & Wolf, S. (2006). The animal–human bond and ethnic diversity. Social Work, 51(3), 257-268.
Ryan, T. (2011). Animals and social work: A moral introduction. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Sable, P. (2013). The pet connection: An attachment perspective. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41(1), 93-99. doi: 10.1007/s10615-012-0405-2
Thompson, K., Every, D., Rainbird, S., Cornell, V., Smith, B., & Trigg, J. (2014). No pet or their person left behind: Increasing the disaster resilience of vulnerable groups through animal attachment, activities and networks. Animals (2076-2615), 4(2), 214-240. doi:10.3390/ani4020214
Trigg, J., Thompson, K., Smith, B., & Bennett, P. (2016). An animal just like me: The importance of preserving the identities of companion-animal owners in disaster contexts. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10(1), 26-40. doi:10.1111/spc3.12233
Walker, P., Aimers, J., & Perry, C. (2015). Animals and social work: An emerging field of practice for Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 27(1), 24-35.
Walsh, F. (2009a). Human-animal bonds I: The relational significance of companion animals. Family Process, 48(4), 462-480. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01296.x
Walsh, F. (2009b). Human-animal bonds II: The role of pets in family systems and family therapy. Family Process, 48(4), 481-499. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01297.x
Williams, V. M., Dale, A. R., Clarke, N., & Garrett, N. K. (2008). Animal abuse and family violence: Survey on the recognition of animal abuse by veterinarians in New Zealand and their understanding of the correlation between animal abuse and human violence. New Zealand Veterinary Journal, 56(1), 21-28. doi:10.1080/00480169.2008.36800
Wells, D. L. (2009). The effects of animals on human health and well-being. Journal of Social Issues, 65(3), 523-543. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.2009.01612.x
White, S. (2012). Companion animals, natural disasters and the law: An Australian perspective. Animals (2076-2615), 2(3), 380-394. doi:10.3390/ani2030380
Wittnich, C., & Belanger, M. (2008). How is animal welfare addressed in Canada's emergency response plans? Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 11(2), 125-132. doi:10.1080/10888700801925976
Wolf, D. B. (2000). Social work and speciesism. Social Work, 45(1), 88-93.
Zottarelli, L. K. (2010). Broken bond: An exploration of human factors associated with companion animal loss during Hurricane Katrina. Sociological Forum, 25(1), 110-122. doi:10.1111/j.1573-7861.2009.01159.x
How to Cite
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
By completing the online submission process, you confirm you accept this agreement. The following is the entire agreement between you and the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) and it may be modified only in writing.
You and any co-authors
If you are completing this agreement on behalf of co-authors, you confirm that you are acting on their behalf with their knowledge.
By submitting the work you are:
- granting the ANZASW the right of first publication of this work;
- confirming that the work is original; and
- confirming that the work has not been published in any other form.
Once published, you are free to use the final, accepted version in any way, as outlined below under Copyright.
You assign copyright in the final, accepted version of your article to the ANZASW. You and any co-authors of the article retain the right to be identified as authors of the work.
The ANZASW will publish the final, accepted manuscript under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY 4.0). This licence allows anyone – including you – to share, copy, distribute, transmit, adapt and make commercial use of the work without needing additional permission, provided appropriate attribution is made to the original author or source.
A human-readable summary of the licence is available from http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, which includes a link to the full licence text.
Under this licence you can use the final, published version of the article freely – such as depositing a copy in your institutional research repository, uploading a copy to your profile on an academic networking site or including it in a different publication, such as a collection of articles on a topic or in conference proceedings – provided that original publication in Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work is acknowledged.
This agreement has no effect on any pre-publication versions or elements, which remain entirely yours, and to which we claim no right.
Reviewers hold copyright in their own comments and should not be further copied in any way without their permission.
The copyright of others
If your article includes the copyright material of others (e.g. graphs, diagrams etc.), you confirm that your use either:
- falls within the limits of fair dealing for the purposes of criticism and review or fair use; OR
- that you have gained permission from the rights holder for publication in an open access journal.