One of our readings this week, “A Study of Pet Rescue in Two Disasters”, found that 20% of pet-owning households failed to take their pet with them and 80% of these people reentered the evacuated area to find their pet later on. The paper argued that because of the dangers of reentering an evacuated area there should be a higher emphasis put on predisaster planning for pet evacuation.
I think some of the most salient information in this piece in terms of Long Beach is the information that reveals how important pets are to people. Some such statistics include the fact that 70% of individuals in one group “thought it was appropriate to risk human life” to rescue a pet (372), or the immense number of households with children that attempted to rescue a pet (373), or the fact that 80% of individuals who reentered an evacuated area (putting themselves at risk) did so to rescue a pet).
The study also makes a few recommendations for how to mitigate the danger of pet rescue, including having search and rescue teams rescue pets (377), offering information to owners about the health of pets left behind through the media (377), and the supervision of residents rescuing pets (including limitation of pet rescue to areas where hazards can be controlled) (377).
In my work on Long Beach I have found announcements, such as the one below from the Long Beach Community website, that touch upon evacuating pets (relevant portion highlighted):
But I have been unable to find announcements that specifically stress the importance of pet evacuation, as stress that is needed in situations such as Sandy when owners may not have pet safety at the forefront of their mind, or that provide help for pet owners who were not in town at the time of the evacuation or even to provide help in cases where pets were not evacuated.
What I have discovered, through the Long Beach Hurricane Info Facebook page, is that providing help for pets that were not evacuated is another area where residents have excelled. Below are just a few of the many Facebook posts that have been posted to help owners find their pets:
Note that these posts received an immense amount of attention in the form of shares, likes and comments, and that they exemplify citizens caring for animals that are not even theirs based on the fact that they belong to some other member of their community.
In a previous post of mine I talked about how Long Beach residents seem to be helping themselves, picking up the slack where government aid does not seem to focus. This pet rescue practice is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Heath, Sebastian, Susan Vocks, et al, and Larry Glickman. “A Study of Pet Rescue in Two Disasters.”International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. 18.3 (2000): 361-381. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.