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 However, this futile and outdated mindset fails to consider the likely behaviour of animal owners and animal rights groups who will put themselves in harms way to save disaster at risk animals.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
- Vaccination/de-worming records
- Food and water
- Leash for each dog
- 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 impact of volcanic ash on livestock can be viewed here.
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.
AJEM Book Review: Animal management and welfare in natural disasters
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
- Animal Evac New Zealand
- Public Safety Institute
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
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.
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.
Another milestone in my PhD journey with the commencing of analysis of survey and interview data. More to follow!
In 2010, I carried out the first empirical study into animal disaster management in New Zealand and this included a survey which is similar to the one being advertised by Massey University.
It is fantastic this work is being built upon and expanded into areas such as horses and farms (which were outside my scope of research). There will also be pet owner preparedness data that has just been collected from my PhD survey of the residents of Edgecumbe as well (interim results hopefully later this year or early next year). In the meantime, here is my 2010 Pet Owner Emergency Preparedness Report of Wellington and Taranaki residents that should be interesting to compare.
Great to see more researchers active in animal emergency management. I am no longer alone!
The online survey of households affected by the Edgecumbe flood (April 2017) has been closed off. Over 150 households participated and shared their experiences of the flood response, with a special focus on animal welfare. The survey was based on an earlier survey undertaken by world veterinary disaster management expert Sebastian Heath in the 1990s following evacuations of US townships following natural and man-made disasters.
Additional research is planned to supplement the household survey including semi-structured interviews of responders working in township of Edgecumbe following the flooding emergency. The data from these, along with official records will be analysed to evaluate the effectiveness of the response, with a view to help identify improvements in future responses and to current animal emergency management policies and laws.
Subject to community interest and support, it is likely that preliminary results from the survey will be shared at a community event in Edgecumbe in early 2019.
Further updates will be posted the survey facebook page www.edgecumbe.nz
It was humbling to have such a nice article written by Stephen Brassett, The Longest Walk NZ founder and blogger. Everyone can make a difference to animal welfare, and we all often do, let it be choosing SPCA blue tick products at the supermarket, volunteering with their local animal rehoming group such as HUHA or CPL, signing petitions against rodeo, to being vegan. Stephen’s contribution in my opinion is massive. To have walked the entire length of the country to raise awareness on animal welfare is something that I and of the greatest animal welfarists could never do. Even William Wilberforce (one of the founders of the UK RSPCA) would have been pushed to have done what Stephen has done! So thank you Stephen for such kind words and it was a pleasure working with a professional writer who has strong ethics.
Check out his article from our conversation here.