Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Most U.S. pet owners would stay home rather than evacuate if they couldn’t take the animal with them during a disaster, according to a new survey.
“Getting prepared ahead of an unforeseen emergency and knowing you can go to a safe place with all members of your family is critical,” said Melissa Pratt, the senior community grants manager at PetSmart Charities, which conducted the survey.
The nonprofit organization surveyed pet owners to highlight National Pet Preparedness Month in June.
The survey findings included:
- 76% would remain home if an evacuation order was issued and they couldn’t take their pets.
- 80% said they would forgo their place in a shelter if their pet were not allowed.
- 86% said their pets’ emotional support would be critical in helping them through a disaster.
- 63% were doubtful that local pet-friendly shelters would be available in an emergency.
PetSmart Charities and the American Red Cross launched a partnership last year to help ensure that disaster planning, response and recovery takes into account the ability of people to keep their pets during a crisis.
“The American Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters across the country every year, and time and time again, we’ve seen how emotionally connected people are to their pets and how important it is that they prepare in advance of disasters,” said Jennifer Pipa, vice president of disaster programs for the American Red Cross.
A 2021 American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals survey emphasized the importance of preparedness:
- 83% of pet owners said they live in a community that faces natural disasters.
- More than 1 in 5 pet owners had to evacuate in response to a disaster or emergency.
- 32% left behind at least one dog, and 20% left behind at least one cat.
- 30% left their pet behind because of time constraints.
- 40% of evacuees did not return home for at least four days.
“These alarming survey results demonstrate the vital need for effective preparedness tactics among pet owners, as well as local and national measures that protect vulnerable animals,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA’s president and CEO.