Integrating animal emergency management in NSW rental laws

The New South Wales Government is now calling for submissions on their residential tenancy laws, specifically around keeping pets in rental accommodation. We know it is hard at the best of times to find pet friendly rental accommodation, but following floods, fires and other disasters, the housing stock is even more in demand at a time where families are highly impacted and stressed, and needing to be kept together.

Have your say about ensuring NSW becomes the leading state in animal-inclusive resilience, by supporting that during and following major emergencies that pet ownership is not a barrier to access short term accommodation.

Make your submission at by Friday 5pm (AEST), 2 December 2022.

If you are seeking some wording to support pets being given increased protections during and following disasters, you are welcome to copy/edit the content below.

The laws should be similar to that passed in Victoria, with the addition that during and following (in immediate recovery phase i.e. >6 months) a state of emergency, tenants should not be refused to keep companion animals in any new tenancy agreements. Beyond the >6 month recovery phase (accepting this phase often takes years to occur), the tenant shall continue to be permitted to keep such companion animals unless the landlord formally objects to the tribunal for a ruling. The number of companion animals permitted at the property shall comply with any laws set by local government area or legal instrument. This however such new provisions, would not remove the right for landlords to seek costs for any damage caused by such companion animals.

Sample Submission

With increasing natural hazard events such as floods and fires, the lack of pet friendly rental accommodation will continue to increase and this can force guardians of such animals to place themselves in vulnerable environments such as rough sleeping (in cars, unsafe conditions) in order to maintain their bond with their animals. In doing so, NSW will be improving disaster resilience and protecting both human and animal safety.

Refer to the following publications to substantiate this submission:

Glassey, S. (2022). Animal Disaster Management. In A. Knight, C. Phillips, & P. Sparks (Eds.), Routledge Handbook on Animal Welfare (1st ed., pp. 336–350).

Graham, T. M., & Rock, M. J. (2018). The spillover effect of a flood on pets and their people: implications for rental housing. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

Kajiwara, H. (2020). Surviving with companion animals in Japan: Life after a Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature.

Routledge Handbook published

It has been a privilege to write the chapter on animal disaster management for the Routledge Handbook on Animal Welfare. This book is now published and available to purchase in both hardcopy and Kindle/e-book. To be published alongside experts such as Andrew Knight, Clive Phillips and Paula Sparks is an academic highlight as it is an honour.

Here is more about the book:

Informed by recent advances in animal behavioural and cognitive science, new understanding of the remarkable abilities of a wide range of animal is leading to a fundamental reconsideration of the ways in which we use, and sometimes exploit, other animals. Combining the expertise of 50 authors – many of whom are world leaders in their fields, the Routledge Handbook of Animal Welfare comprehensively covers the welfare concerns associated with the farming of terrestrial species and fish, transportation, slaughter, the use of animals in laboratories, zoos, entertainment settings, and as companions, working animals, and more. Virtually all contemporary animal welfare concerns are covered in depth.

Many of these issues are controversial, challenging accepted practices, and throwing into sharp relief the differing interests of stakeholders such as industry, government, wider society, and of course, the animals themselves. In such a socially contested domain, sound evidence is important. This book explores the scientific underpinnings for the moral consideration of animals, and of evolving conceptualisations of animal welfare, that give rise to concerns about the welfare of animals used in a wide variety of social settings.

The inclusion of recent topics such as the impacts of climate change on animal welfare, and of the links between animal exploitation, antimicrobial resistance and pandemics, ensure this text is among the most current in its field. This textbook also includes coverage of animal ethics, animal law in key regions of the world, stakeholder perspectives, education, communication and human behavioural change. It is essential reading for students of animal welfare everywhere, and for policy-makers, researchers and other professionals working in the animal welfare sector.

Purchase now from the publisher or from Amazon.

Assistance dogs need protection

Make a submission today to prevent assistance dog fraud.

Quick Action: Go to the NZ Parliament website and make a submission to support the Bill, with a recommendation that the Dog Control Act 1996 is amended to make it an offence to impersonate an assistance dog.

In January 2019, I had the privilege to presenting my report ” No animal left behind: A report on animal inclusive emergency management law reform” at Parliament with the support for Gareth Hughes MP and former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. The report has been hailed one of the most comprehensive reviews of animal disaster management law undertaken in the world to date, and made many recommendations to create animal-inclusive resilient communities.

One of issues was the purporting of companion animals (pet dogs in this case) as bona-fide disability assistance dogs, particularly in disaster evacuations. Even within Australia (my new home), impersonating a disability assistance dog is illegal in only two States (North Territory and ACT). In my earlier research (2011), the lack of clear identification for disability assistance dogs was found to be an issue in the New Zealand Emergency Management sector, with a case during the Christchurch Earthquake highlighting the need for a standardised identification system.

While I was the Chair of the National Welfare Coordination Group (a statutory committee established under Civil Defence Emergency Management arrangements), in partnership with the Office of Disability Issues, NZ Institute of Animal Management, Department of Internal Affairs (Dog Control Policy) and ACC, a new national disability assistance dog tag with the Civil Defence logo was produced. By having the Civil Defence logo on it, it provided some legal protection as only those that are authorised by civil defence may use the logo. Those using the Civil Defence logo without permission are subject to a fine of up to $300 under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Regulations 2003. However, the tag is not compulsory for disability assistance dogs to wear meaning it remains difficult for the public to determine what dogs are genuine disability assistance dogs, from pet dogs whose owners have have just purchased “service dog” jackets and other apparel online.

Thanks to Ricardo Menéndez March MP, who is leading a members bill in Parliament to improve the legislation around disability assistance dogs, all types of bona-fide assistance dogs will hopefully be recognised equally to guide dogs under the Human Rights Act 1993. This was a key recommendation in the report (page 15) presented to Parliament and I am glad to see this now be considered.

The only deficiency, but a critical one is to ensure the intended purpose of the Bill is fully enabled with the creation of an offence under the Dog Control Act 1996 that makes it illegal to impersonate a disability assist dog:

New section: 75A Impersonation of disability assist dog (new)
A person commits an offence who intentionally personates or falsely represents or identifies their dog to be a disability assist dog (and add to Schedule 1: Infringeable Offences). For the purposes of this act, any use of a similar term such as service dog shall also be considered as personating a
disability assistance dog.

The protection of bona-fide assistance dogs will be much easier from a compliance perspective, if local authority Dog Control Officers have the ability to issue infringement notices for assistance dog fraud, rather than relying on potential discrimination remedies through the Human Rights Tribunal.

While amendments are taking place, it also is recommended that another section is added to the Dog Control Act 1996 to provide for other identification options such as the new Hapai Access Card.

New section: 75B Identification of disability assist dogs (new)
The Minister may gazette a form of identification to identify disability assist dogs, in consultation with certifying organisations at that time

I would like you to help protect the legitimacy of disability assistance dogs in New Zealand, by making a submission on the Bill.

Make a submission through the NZ Parliament Website and give them your feedback. If you would like to cut and paste, or edit to suit your own thoughts, please feel free to use the below text.

  1. I support the Bill to ensure all Disability Assistance Dogs are given the same protections as Guide Dogs; and,
  2. I recommend the Bill also makes amendments to the Dog Control Act 1996, to make it an offence to impersonate a Disability Assistance Dog; and,
  3. I recommend the Bill provides the power to the Minister to gazette a form of identification for Disability Assistance Dogs.

Submissions close 10 November 2021.

How to get animal ready for a volcanic eruption.

Mt Ruapehu

With the Volcanic Alert Level being raised to Level 2 by GNS Science, this signals the potential for an volcanic eruption. Though there is no need to panic, the unsettled volcanic mountain’s activity is a gentle reminder of the hazards we and our animals live with. It is important to use this time before an eruption to get prepared and get a plan in place. 

2018 Hawaiian Eruption

There is a growing volume of empirical evidence that suggests that wherever there has been mandatory evacuations and animals (in particular pets or companion animals) have been left behind, that the owners will risk their own lives and covertly or overtly breach cordons to rescue their pets.

The 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island on Hawaii led to evacuations of over 1,700 people who were at risk from lava flow and other volcanic hazards.

Brad Stanfill said the lava was more than 5 kilometres from his house but he was not allowed in because of a mandatory evacuation order. He was frustrated because he wanted to feed his rabbits and dogs and check on his property (Stuff, 2018).

As disaster management scholars Erik Auf der Heide, Drabek, Quarantelli and Dynes have all wisely said in regards to likely vs. correct behaviour:

Emergency planning is about designing plans on what people are likely to do… Plans are much easier to change than human behaviour.

The correct behaviour that emergency officials want is for people to conform to their instructions and accept animals are not as important as humans. However, this futile and outdated mindset fails to consider the likely behaviour of animal owners and animal rights groups who will put themselves in harms way to save disaster at risk animals.

Therefore, if an evidence informed approach to emergency management is to be followed, failing to protect animals in disaster will compromise the safety of people.

Tips for keeping pets safe

Before an eruption

  • Ensure you have a family emergency plan that includes your animals
  • Ensure all your pets are microchipped
  • If you pet has as collar, ensure it has identification tag with a mobile phone number on it (no your residential land line as you may not be able to get home in an emergency)
  • Ensure you have several photos (particular face) of your pet
  • Save animal records (veterinary, vaccinations, insurance, photos etc) to cloud storage/email
  • Have a pet evacuation kit
    • pet carrier/crate for each animal
    • Ensure each dog has a muzzle available so they can be handled by officials
    • Vaccination/de-worming records
    • Food and water
    • Leash for each dog
    • brushes
    • Familiar toy/blanket
    • Sanitation supplies (cleaner, wipes, poo bags, kitty litter etc)

If an eruption is possible

  • Bring your pets indoors and prepare for evacuation
    • toilet cats inside so you can easily find them in case of evacuation
    • ensure you have suitable transportation available and ready
  • Ensure you are subscribed to local warning systems
  • Monitor the news for updates
  • Confirm alternative pet friendly accommodation for your family
    • this could be with other family or pet friendly hotels etc
  • Consider evacuating early – evacuating with animals can be time consuming

If an eruption is imminent or in progress

  • Keep your animals out of low lying areas (where toxic volcanic gases can accumulate)
  • Pet jackets may be useful to minimising contamination from volcanic ash
  • Always ensure your pets are not loose inside a vehicle when evacuating
  • Ensure water given is not contaminated by ash
  • If you animals become contaminated by volcanic ash
    • contact your veterinarian for advice
    • brush off excess ash outside (under shelter)
    • check eyes for contamination, flush with water if needed
    • place ash and other contaminated waste into sealed plastic bag
  • If your animal starts to have difficulties breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Evacuate early and if you think you need assistance, ask for this as early as possible

Other useful information

Information on the hazards of volcanic ash can be viewed here.

Information on the impact of volcanic ash on livestock can be viewed here.

Get your free pet owners preparedness guide here


Research update

It has been a while since I did an update. Long story short, COVID has meant I have put my PhD on hold. But I will be returning to it, and have a number of outputs that may be of interest.

This includes:

AJEM Book Review: Animal management and welfare in natural disasters

PREPRINT: Legal Complexities of Entry, Rescue, Seizure and Disposal of Disaster Affected Companion Animals in New Zealand

Encore at NASAAEP

Wow! What an amazing summit! The National Alliance of State Agricultural and Animal Emergency Programs held their 2019 summit in Belluvue, Washington State and I had the honour to present on lessons on animal disaster response in New Zealand.

I was very humbled to be asked to present my research at an encore session later in the summit.

It was also great to hear research being presented by fellow New Zealand researchers Prof. Chris Riley and Dr. Steve De Grey (below) from Massey University.

IMG_1403 (002)

A big thanks to the following organisations who made my presentation at this summit including:

  • University of Otago
  • Bushfire & Natural Hazards Collaborative Research Centre
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals
  • Animal Evac New Zealand
  • Public Safety Institute

National disaster strategy needs to include animals


I along with Theresa Parkin had the opportunity today to present a brief oral submission to the Governance and Administration Select Committee on the draft National Disaster Resilience Strategy.

I raised the many issues we have observed and encountered that are preventing New Zealand from becoming a world class leader in animal disaster management. We were the sole voice that made it clear, the status quo continues to fail animals, and they deserve better.  

You can read my speech notes and see some of the presentation on the below links.

For every day we fail to reform our animal disaster management arrangements, we will continue to put human lives at risk.

Steve Glassey, Animal Evac NZ


Fugate supports law report

With the support of Gareth Hughes MP, and authored by Steve Glassey, Animal Evac New Zealand has presented the most comprehensive report on animal disaster law reform at Parliament today. 

The presentation was launched with a guest speaker Craig Fugate, the former Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via video conference who spoke about the need to have animals included in emergency plans.

The report found that New Zealand had not learned the lessons from Hurricane Katrina, like the US had; nor had it learned the lessons from many domestic civil defence emergencies with Steve warning that “every day we chose not to act, we place in harm’s way not only animals, but humans who care about them too”.

As part of Steve’s PhD research at the University of Otago, the report identified a wide range of recommendations including:

  1. The need for companion animal emergency management to be led by traditionally human focused agencies, such as the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management at the national level, and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups at the regional level, as companion animal emergency management should be fully integrated with human focused emergency management as the two were intrinsically linked.
  2. That MPI  to be responsible for non-companion animals such as livestock, factory farms, zoos, aquariums, and research facilities.
  3. A lack of national animal specific emergency management plans and where plans had been completed at the regional level they had not been afforded any legal status making them unenforceable.
  4. That emergency management laws be expanded to ensure the range of emergency powers could also be used for the protection of animals, including adding microchipping of animals as an emergency power.
  5. Providing clear mandate for the rescue and decontamination of animals, and that such operations fall under Fire & Emergency  New Zealand, to ensure human and animal rescue operations were better integrated.
  6. Emergency response and training funding for animal welfare be made available, rather than having the good will of animal charities be exploited.
  7. That the two national microchipping database are enabled to share data, in particular during emergencies to ensure improved reunification rates.
  8. Creating an offence for placing service dog identification on dogs that are not certified as disability assistance dogs; and another offence for failing to protect animals from hazards such as floods, fires etc where it is reasonable to do so.
  9. Ensuring commercial operators of animal housing facilities have documented emergency management plans in place that are tested.
  10. That local authorities need to ensure they have provisions in their bylaws to allow for emergency variations to dog control ordinances such as designating emergency dog exercise areas.
  11. That the legal processes for entry onto property to carry out rescue of animals, including seizure, notification to owners and disposal, including rehoming be amended as the current laws fail to provide for rehoming of animals seized under civil defence legislation as disposal provisions were omitted.
  12. That the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee expand their prescribed expertise to including animal disaster management given the demands of climate change.
  13. That following a disaster in the statutory recovery transition period, those seeking rental accommodation cannot be discriminated against for owning companion animals to ensure the family unit can remain together.
  14. That civil defence no longer have the autonomous power to destroy animals in a disaster, with new requirements to consult with an animal welfare inspector should this option be pursued.
  15. That a new Code of Emergency Welfare be introduced to provide minimum standards for animals during times of emergencies as standard Codes of Welfare often are not enforceable during times of emergency.
  16. That animal population data is developed and maintained for emergency planning purposes.
  17. That companion animals be permitted on public transport to aid their evacuation during emergencies.

The full report is available to download from ResearchGate (no login required), and a transcript of Craig Fugate’s key note speech is available for download too.

Steve would like to thank the following people who have contributed to the development, review and championing of this comprehensive report:

  • Gareth Hughes MP
  • Mojo Mather (former MP)
  • Theresa Parkin (Co-Founder, Animal Evac NZ)
  • Miss Margaret Nixon (Retired, Parliamentary Counsel)
  • Ms Rachel Stedman (Animal welfare law advocate)
  • Dr Peter Walker, Dr Mike King and Mr Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere (PhD supervisors, University of Otago)
  • Mr Craig Fugate (former FEMA Director and guest speaker at report launch)
  • Lisa & Diesel Glassey
  • And the 160 plus volunteers who have made Animal Evac NZ a reality.