Will Marley come home? An exploration of the impacts of the Canterbury earthquakes on people’s relationships with their companion animals


  • Nikki Evans University of Canterbury
  • Maria Perez-y-Perez University of Canterbury




canterbury earthquakes, christchurch earthquakes, animals, pets, disaster, loss, resiliency, human-animal relationship,


A sizeable number of New Zealand homes contain at least one companion animal – and many of these are afforded the status of family member by their human owner(s). It follows then that when a series of high-magnitude earthquakes shook the New Zealand city of Christchurch and the Canterbury region it is located within, many people and their companion animals were impacted. Generic and disaster-specific research into animal-human relationships has mostly been undertaken outside of the profession of social work. However, a number of recent social work research and theoretical papers draw attention to the need for this discipline to also embrace this field (Evans & Gray, 2012; Morley & Fook, 2005; Tedeschi, Fitchett, & Molidor, 2005; Risley-Curtiss, Holley, & Wolf, 2006b; Risley-Curtiss, 2010). The aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes has revealed a need to look critically at how animal-human relationships are perceived, and the potential for these relationships to be considered within routine social work assessments and interventions. This paper considers the role of companion animals in people’s lives, addresses the status of these animals during the Canterbury earthquakes, explores issues of loss and resiliency within animal-human relationships and looks at the implications of these relationships for social work practice and research.


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How to Cite

Evans, N., & Perez-y-Perez, M. (2016). 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, 25(2), 7–17. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol25iss2id76