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.
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.
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:
My chapter on Animal Disaster Management in the acclaimed Routledge Handbook on Animal Welfare, along with chapters written by other leading authors is now available as open access. It is now free to download.
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.
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.
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.
I support the Bill to ensure all Disability Assistance Dogs are given the same protections as Guide Dogs; and,
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,
I recommend the Bill provides the power to the Minister to gazette a form of identification for Disability Assistance Dogs.
An international committee of scholars have come together to convene the inaugural Global Animal Disaster Management Conference (GADMC), delivered online (14-24 February 2021) and free to attend, present and publish.
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
That MPI to be responsible for non-companion animals such as livestock, factory farms, zoos, aquariums, and research facilities.
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.
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.
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.
Emergency response and training funding for animal welfare be made available, rather than having the good will of animal charities be exploited.
That the two national microchipping database are enabled to share data, in particular during emergencies to ensure improved reunification rates.
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.
Ensuring commercial operators of animal housing facilities have documented emergency management plans in place that are tested.
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.
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.
That the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee expand their prescribed expertise to including animal disaster management given the demands of climate change.
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.
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.
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.
That animal population data is developed and maintained for emergency planning purposes.
That companion animals be permitted on public transport to aid their evacuation during emergencies.