Evacuating Pets and People: Time, Decisions, and Resources

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:10
Oral Presentation
Jennifer TRIVEDI, University of Delaware, USA
Tricia WACHTENDORF, University of Delaware, USA
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the PETS Act was put into place to help provide more planning and options for pet evacuations in the United States. However, since then pet evacuations have remained a complex problem for many people affected by disasters. Some residents may refuse to evacuate without their pets, leaving both pets and people stranded in rising water and dangerous storm conditions. Residents who do evacuate face a range of issues related to bringing pets with them, such as finding appropriate cages for use at shelters or arranging for alternate care at veterinarians' offices or kennels. While such problems pose an obstacle to evacuation, they also cause time delays in the evacuation process. Whether taking time to address these obstacles or causing residents to waiver on evacuation decisions while considering if they can evacuate with their pets, these delays can cause serious complications to the evacuation process. Residents can thus become trapped in dangerous situations, sending residents to shelters instead of being able to reach the homes of family members or friends, or resulting in pets having to be left behind in immediate moments of crisis to save human lives. Examining these delays to understand the decision-making timelines and other related problems contributes to our knowledge of how and why people evacuate or shelter in place with pets, as well as to our more general understanding of how large-scale evacuation efforts may run into complications such as lower rates of timely evacuation or the need for additional rescues.