This article examines how human-animal connections influence risk perception and behaviour in companion animal guardians exposed to bushfire threat in Australia. Although the objective role of psychological bonds with companion animals is well accepted by researchers, subjective interpretations of these bonds by animal guardians are relatively underexamined in this context. We argue that the ways in which connections with pets and other animals are represented influences different forms of safety-risk perception and behaviour when managing animals’ safety in the face of disaster threat. Thematic analysis of 21 semi-structured interviews with South Australian residents in bushfire-affected areas supported the role of the human-animal bond in shaping risk perception, and influencing engagement in risk-behaviour. Influential factors included animals’ “life value,” “relative versus absolute” risk framing, the “constellation of bonds,” and “action paralysis” when facing threat. Implications for future research in decision-making and risk propensities of animal guardians facing disaster threat alongside their pets are then discussed.
- Thematic analysis