Australia's Black Summer bushfires provide a stark reminder that animals are increasingly exposed to disaster risks arising from changing climate conditions. In Australia, differing jurisdictional requirements and organisational approaches to managing domestic animals in disasters can lead to different welfare and safety outcomes for animals and people responsible for them. The need for consistency in this space is reinforced by recent Royal Commission findings. In 2014, the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee endorsed a set of National Planning Principles for Animals in Disasters as a tool supporting best practice in emergency planning, policy, and procedures for animals. This study examines planning for animals in disasters in relation to the Principles, to describe their implementation and relevance in the Australian context. A national survey and structured interviews were completed by individuals from organisations with a stake in animal management in disasters, with case studies explored for context from recent disaster events. Findings address the relevance and implementation of specific principles, as well as responsibility for animals in disasters from the perspectives of emergency services, state and local government, animal welfare, veterinary and other organisations. The Principles can support consistency in this space, and promote better welfare and safety outcomes for animals.
Mel Taylor is an Occupational Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Organisational Psychology team at Macquarie University. She is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Mel’s research has focused on preparedness, response, and recovery to threats such as natural hazards emergencies, pandemics, and emergency animal diseases.