Public policy around animal welfare in disaster management is a new field, both in practice and in research. Early studies in the 1990s paved the way for a wider and more internationally focused approach to the challenge of protecting both people and animals during disasters, with some countries introducing specific legislative instruments to afford animals better protection in such events. Such reforms are largely motivated by the recognition of the bond humans often have with animals, and the likelihood that they will behave in a way that is protective of them, even at the risk of compromising human safety. However, the issues around animal disaster management and the associated policy are complex and are best categorized as a wicked problem. Production animals are generally highly vulnerable to disaster due to high stock densities and lack of hazard mitigation. However, it is the lack of human–animal bond that leaves these animals largely without disaster-risk-reduction advocacy. In contrast, companion animals that enjoy the paternalistic protection of their guardians benefit from greater rights, and their advocates have a stronger voice to effect change in public policy through democratic processes. This article looks at the historical development of policy and legal reform of animal disaster management in a global context and draws upon numerous studies to provide evidence-based arguments as to why animals matter in disasters and why there are significant public safety and political benefits in protecting them.
Sarah E. DeYoung
During crisis events such as humanitarian conflicts, population displacement, natural disasters, and others, some people are more vulnerable to long-term physical, psychological, and overall adverse outcomes. Aspects of context that affect vulnerability include: (a) the nature of the hazard or conflict event; (b) the geographic location and structural surroundings; and (c) involvement of key groups during crisis. The nature of the event includes barriers for access to well-being in high-income and low-income contexts, the speed of onset of the hazard, the scope and type of hazard (localized or catastrophic, natural or technological, and other factors). Geographic location and structural surroundings include factors such as isolation caused by an island context, structural mitigation (such as earthquake-resistant construction), pollution and environmental exposure, and implementation of land use planning or sustainable farming. Finally, with regard to involvement of key groups in crisis, it is important to consider ways in which group coordination, logistics, cultural competency, public policy, social movements, and other mechanisms can exacerbate or improve conditions for vulnerable groups. Groups more likely to experience adverse outcomes in disasters include: ethnic and racial minoritized persons, people considered to be low caste, women, children, infants, sexual minorities, religious minorities, elders, and immigrants and refugees. Displacement and relocation are associated with specific increases in exposure to food insecurity, human trafficking, and reduced access to reproductive care. Contextual factors are also related to the severity of the adverse outcomes these groups experience in crisis. These factors include access to healthcare, access to education, and economic status. There are also unique groups whose needs, social systems, and cultural factors increase barriers to evacuation, accessing warning information, or accessing safe sheltering. These groups include persons with functional and access needs including medical or cognitive impairments, elderly individuals, people with companion animals, and people with mental illness.