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Featured News Animals in disaster zones

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Fri, 1 Dec 2017

Animals in disaster zones

Pancho and Barkley, dogs, outside The Cairns Institute.
Pancho (left) and Barkley at The Cairns Institute for the Health and Humanitarian Action in Emergencies course. Photographer: Katherine Kokkonen

As cyclone season approaches, do you have a plan for keeping your animals safe in a disaster?

Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Science Dr Janice Lloyd discussed the dilemmas, and suggested some solutions, as part of Health and Humanitarian Action in Emergencies, a two-week course developed by the Hawaii-based Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) in partnership with James Cook University.

Twenty-three delegates from 12 countries are attending the Cairns training course, designed to strengthen capacity for emergency response and disaster management, especially in the Pacific region.

“The course brings together people from a wide range of civilian, military and humanitarian professions who are all likely to deal with animal related issues at some stage in their response to natural or man-made disasters,” Dr Lloyd said.

“Whether it’s working out how to keep your livestock safe, preparing your pets for possible evacuation, or understanding some basic veterinary first-aid, there’s a lot you can do to minimise the risk to the animals in your life.”

The two-week course, which runs this week and next, covers topics ranging from water, sanitation and hygiene to food security, communicable disease control, and shelter.

Dr Lloyd said animals must be planned for in humanitarian response to emergencies.

“In addition to their own intrinsic value, animals have significant effects on human behaviour,” she said.

“It’s well established that some people will risk their lives in attempts to save their companion animals or livestock, and may refuse to evacuate if they’re unable to take their animals.

“We’ve also seen how helping wildlife survive and recover after an emergency can be a significant boost to the resilience of communities and individuals, after the immediate danger has passed.

“Where animals suffer and die in an emergency, whether they are companion animals, livestock or wildlife, we see people grieve and mourn those losses. These are all good reasons to include animals in our emergency planning.”

Contacts

Media enquiries: linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au