With so many pressing concerns affecting people during disasters, why should we devote scarce resources to animals? Don’t we have “bigger” things to worry about? This talk challenges the assumption that animal problems are distinct from people problems. It proposes that much of the risk that animals face in disasters is human caused. Once we understand how we make animals vulnerable to disasters we can question and change the practices that put them at risk.
Leslie Irvine is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Animals and Society Certificate Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research during Hurricane Katrina formed the basis for her book, Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters. Her other books include My Dog Always Eats First, which examines homeless people’s relationships with their companion animals, and If You Tame Me, which provides evidence for a sense of self among animals. Leslie has also studied animal sheltering, animal abuse, animals in popular culture, and the feminization of veterinary medicine.