Effect of pets on human behavior and stress in disaster

Aki Tanaka, Jun Saeki, Shin Ichi Hayama, Philip H Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Animal-related consequences were not anticipated in disaster preparedness planning in Japan at the time of its massive earthquakes in 2011. Evacuation failure was quite common due to pet ownership in this disaster. Public attention to the welfare of affected animals in this disaster triggered an awareness of the importance of caring for their needs. However, research on human behavior toward pets or effect of pets on human during disasters remains sparse. In this study, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores among pet-owners and non-pet owners in Japan's 2011 earthquake disaster were compared, and attitudes toward pets were evaluated. A questionnaire was distributed to attendees, and interviews were performed at an annual animal welfare event. The Japanese-language version of the revised Impact of Event Scale was used to evaluate PTSD from the disaster. PTSD scores were higher in pet-owners compared to non-pet owners immediately after the earthquakes, but were lower in pet-owners compared to non-pet owners 4.4 years following the disaster. Most people opined that pets should evacuate with people, although less than half of non-pet owners agreed with having animals co-located at evacuation centers. In order to enhance safety and security of both humans and animals at evacuation centers, it is important to proactively address animal issues in disaster preparedness planning. Although pets were regarded by some as adverse risk factors for human health and safety during a disaster; this study instead suggests that pets may play an important positive and protective role for disaster victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume6
Issue numberMAR
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Pets
disasters
Disasters
human behavior
pets
Earthquakes
earthquakes
disaster preparedness
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders
Disaster Planning
Animal Welfare
animal welfare
animals
human health and safety
planning
Japan
Disaster Victims
Safety
Ownership
interviews

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Disaster
  • Evacuation
  • Pets
  • PTSD
  • Shelter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

Cite this

Effect of pets on human behavior and stress in disaster. / Tanaka, Aki; Saeki, Jun; Hayama, Shin Ichi; Kass, Philip H.

In: Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Vol. 6, No. MAR, 113, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tanaka, Aki ; Saeki, Jun ; Hayama, Shin Ichi ; Kass, Philip H. / Effect of pets on human behavior and stress in disaster. In: Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2019 ; Vol. 6, No. MAR.
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