Re-thinking disaster risk plans to include livestock, pets

iWitness News

By Kenton X. Chance, Journalist

When it comes to creating a disaster risk reduction plan, thoughts of including animals, and more so pets, are often not included.


“Animals are really very valuable to human beings, they are a source of livelihoods for over one billion poor people across the world, so if you lose an animal in a disaster, then the impact on your family and the economy as well is really going to be very drastic,” says [Aura Freeman, head of campaign on disasters at World Animal Protection,] who was participating in the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a United Nations conference that ended here last weekend.

Head of disaster communication, at World Animal Protection, Scot Canton, says his organisation’s experience in the Caribbean shows the devastating impact of not planning for animals in times of disasters.


In Barbuda after [hurricanes Maria and Irma], the entire human population was evacuated and the expertise and time was not there to organise mass evacuation of animals, including hundreds of heads of cattle, racehorses, and dogs, which Canton says would have been a challenge to any country.

He says that with the human population gone and with no one to feed them, dogs reverted to their natural instincts, formed packs and began attacking the livestock.


He says after disasters some predatory lenders exploit pastoralists who have suffered economic loss because of the death of their animals, causing these farmers to “descend into these spirals of poverty out of which there is no escape”.

The World Animal Protection official says that in terms of psychosocial impact, research has shown that when people are able to have their pet with them post-disaster, their recovery time is so much greater and faster from traumatic events.


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