People living in cities will risk own safety to save animals

09 July 2014

New research shows the vital importance of animal protection in preparing for natural disaster

Our research, commissioned across Brazil, India, Thailand and the USA, shows a strong connection between people and animals around the world.

It proves what we already know from 50 years of disaster work: that animals are valuable, integral members of communities and must be cared for in the wake of natural disasters.

However, it also shows a troubling trend - relatively few people have actually made disaster plans which include their animals. This could result in owners compromising their own safety to rescue them.

According to our research, people living in cities view themselves as at growing risk from natural disasters. When asked what they would prioritise in the event of a disaster, animals came near top of the list - just after caring for children and family members.

The research also shows that the loss of animals through a disaster has a huge emotional and psychological impact on the owner. Over 60% of people said they would compare it to the loss of a family member or friend. This loss can greatly increase the time it takes for people and communities to recover.

Key findings:

  • Nearly 75% of people in the US would take their animals with them in a disaster
  • In Thailand and India at least 90% of people in urban areas think it’s necessary to make an emergency plan for their animals
  • In the US, India, Thailand and Brazil, people living in a disaster would take their animals with them first after their children and other family members
  • In Bangkok, Thailand 46% of people have had to evacuate their home as a result of flooding - 92% took their animals with them
  • In Brazil 64% of people are concerned that their risk from natural disaster is growing.

James Sawyer, Director of Disaster Management, says: "In disaster after disaster, we have seen first-hand that people will go to great lengths to care for their animals - whether pets of livestock - often putting their own lives at risk. People frequently bring their animals with them when evacuated, regardless of whether local authorities are prepared to accommodate them.

"Animals must be included in the disaster planning to help communities rebuild, minimise risk and danger to both animals and humans, and also mitigate psychological impact on a human population reeling from a disaster.

"Such comprehensive plans can go far in improving long term resilience for people and their animals." 

Find out more about our work with animals in disasters.

"We have seen first-hand that people will go to great lengths to care for their animals - whether pets of livestock - often putting their own lives at risk."

Tell the world: