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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 22, 2008

Planning for Pet Evacuations during Disasters

Andrew S. Edmonds and Susan L. Cutter

Planning for pets in emergencies is now part of local, state, and federal preparedness efforts as a result of the enactment of the 2006 PETS Act. Yet there is little guidance on how to conduct such planning efforts. This paper provides a procedure for estimating the number and location of pet-owning households. Utilizing behavioral studies of evacuation non-compliance, estimates of the number and location of non-evacuating pet-households are made. The procedures are tested in Horry County, South Carolina and Mercer County, New Jersey. We found that the pet estimation model provided a more detailed (numerically and geographically) estimate than the application of national averages. Furthermore, the two approaches to estimating pet owner evacuation non-compliance yield similar results (roughly within 2% of each other). However, the spatial distribution of these non-compliant households shows considerable variability, suggesting a greater need for animal shelters in some areas of the county than others, especially if the goal is to improve evacuation compliance. The development of such fine-grained tools for estimating pet owning households and likely compliance with evacuation orders is the first step in achieving the planning goals within the 2006 PETS Act. It also highlights where to place emergency animal shelters to maximize evacuation compliance of pet-owning households.

Published Online: 2008-7-22

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