Peripatetic Event

Ensuring Animal Welfare in Disaster Management: A Critical Need

Disaster management comes with many spinning plates, making it hard to pull off effectively even at the best of times. Whether dealing with an intense storm, seismic activity, or a wildfire, countless steps need to be taken to minimise the impact on human life, property, and infrastructure. However, an aspect that many tend to overlook is the need for sturdy animal welfare systems in the event of disasters.

Animals: The Forgotten Victims

Animals are among the most vulnerable in the case of disasters. In terms of pets, livestock, and wildlife, animals are put under serious duress when intense situations arise. For one, they can often end up being left behind during evacuation processes. Similarly, as animals that operate on instinct, they might be hard to wrangle in the heat of the moment, running off by themselves into potentially more dangerous surroundings.

Perhaps most significant is the impact on wildlife, as major disasters can do massive damage to their habitats. A forest fire or flood can displace countless critters, showing the need for suitable infrastructure to protect animals.

Human-Animal Bond

Along with the impact on the animals themselves, it’s vital to remember the significance of the bond between animals and their human carers. Whether a person has a couple of dogs in their care as family pets or makes their living off a herd of sheep, you can’t discount how hard people might be hit if they lose their animals in a disaster.

With plenty of people in animal welfare jobs, working to protect our furry (or feathered) friends, you can trust that this aspect of interpersonal community won’t be hit quite as hard.

Benefits of Animal-Inclusive Disaster Management

Maintaining a strong animal welfare plan is vital in terms of disaster management schemes for several reasons.

  • Protecting Commerce: Animal welfare applies to agricultural sites, meaning that it’s vital for keeping economic infrastructure stable, especially in areas that rely on farming and agriculture as significant economic stimulators.
  • Preserving Biodiversity: By properly protecting wildlife sites, disaster management schemes can aid in the preservation of an area’s natural biodiversity, ensuring that the ecosystem isn’t disturbed too significantly by disasters.
  • Reduced Public Health Risks: Even household pets can cause public health risks when left to roam free, making animal welfare a vital part of preemptive recovery, ensuring an area can return to strength faster post-disaster.

While for some it might feel like an afterthought, the need for reliable animal welfare systems cannot be understated – if not primarily to protect the animals alone but also to minimise the impact on humans.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite animal welfare seeming like such an obvious priority, some fairly significant issues arise internationally when trying to integrate it into disaster management plans.

Limited resources and training are major speedbumps, especially in vulnerable areas that might struggle to effectively protect their human populations. Sadly, these are often the areas that might be hit hardest by the animal impacts of disasters. Ideally, comprehensive emergency response plans will account for animals, while specific sanctuaries and training sessions can be established for more targeted preparedness.

Dedicated Groups

With all this in mind, it’s also beneficial to collaborate with organisations that actively focus on the provision of animal welfare, such as the ifaw If you’re eager to gather more insights about what groups like this do, we have Céline Sissler-BienvenuDirector of Emergency Relief and Disaster Risk Reduction at IFAW speaking at Disasters Expo Europe.

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu @ Disasters Expo Europe

As the first European to graduate from the Paramilitary School for Wildlife Specialists in Garoua, Cameroon, Céline learned first-hand how to manage protected areas to stop destructive practices such as poaching. Entering IFAW in 2006, she developed training programs in Central Africa while organising translocations to reduce human-animal conflict in Western Africa. Since 2021, as Programme Director for IFAW’s Disaster Response work in Europe, together with her team, Céline campaigns for the improvement of disaster response policies at the EU and national levels. As droughts, wildfires, and floods hit Europe more frequently and furiously than ever before, animals must be incorporated into national disaster management planning. Her field experience and expertise in wildlife rescue and animal welfare each enable her to respond and provide effective relief to animals in crisis.

At Disasters Expo Europe, Céline SISSLER-BIENVENU will be offering a Keynote Speech about the need to rescue animals in disasters, expanding on some of the points touched on in this newsletter and many more. If you’re interested in learning more about what she has to say, along with gaining access to a wide range of other seminars, exhibitions, and networking opportunities, don’t hesitate to register for your complimentary ticket today.

Find Disasters Expo Europe listed on PreventionWeb