No Pet or Their Person Left Behind: Increasing the Disaster Resilience of Vulnerable Groups through Animal Attachment, Activities and Networks

Kirrilly Thompson, Danielle Every, Sophia Rainbird, Victoria Cornell, Bradley Smith, Joshua Trigg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Increased vulnerability to natural disasters has been associated with particular groups in the community. This includes those who are considered de facto vulnerable (children, older people, those with disabilities etc.) and those who own pets (not to mention pets themselves). The potential for reconfiguring pet ownership from a risk factor to a protective factor for natural disaster survival has been recently proposed. But how might this resilience-building proposition apply to vulnerable members of the community who own pets or other animals? This article addresses this important question by synthesizing information about what makes particular groups vulnerable, the challenges to increasing their resilience and how animals figure in their lives. Despite different vulnerabilities, animals were found to be important to the disaster resilience of seven vulnerable groups in Australia. Animal attachment and animal-related activities and networks are identified as underexplored devices for disseminating or 'piggybacking' disaster-related information and engaging vulnerable people in resilience building behaviors (in addition to including animals in disaster planning initiatives in general). Animals may provide the kind of innovative approach required to overcome the challenges in accessing and engaging vulnerable groups. As the survival of humans and animals are so often intertwined, the benefits of increasing the resilience of vulnerable communities through animal attachment is twofold: human and animal lives can be saved together.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214-240
    Number of pages27
    JournalAnimals
    Volume4
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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