Companion Animals, Natural Disasters And The Law: An Australian Perspective
This article examines legislation in Australia affecting companion animals during natural disasters. The author reviews and analyzes legislation designed to protect companion animals, and examines institutional responses in two recent disasters-bush fires in Victoria in 2009 and major flooding in Queensland in 2012-2011. The author finds current legislation is not adequate and makes a number of recommendations, including a directive for legislation to adequately address the issue and consistency in that legislation across jurisdictions.
“One of the issues raised by recent natural disasters in Australia is the management of companion animal welfare in disaster planning, response and recovery. Official inquiries following these disasters uncovered a number of shortcomings in addressing the management of animal welfare issues. This article suggests that despite some reform following these events, disaster management still fails to take seriously the interests of companion animals.”
“This article examines the regulation of companion animal welfare during disasters, with some context provided by two recent major disaster events in Australia. Important general lessons for improved disaster management were identified in subsequent inquiries. However, the interests of companion animals continue to be inadequately addressed. This is because key assumptions underpinning disaster planning for companion animals—the primacy of human interests over animal interests and that individuals will properly address companion animal needs during times of disaster—are open to question. In particular these assumptions fail to recognise the inherent value of companion animals, underestimate the strong bond shared by some owners and their animals and, at the same time, overestimate the capacity of some owners to adequately meet the needs of their animals.”