When disaster strikes, things need to happen fast: animal rescue, the provision of veterinary services and the protection of domestic animals that form the livelihood of the local population. Natural and man-made disasters often demonstrate the significant role of animals in the community. Farm animals are an important part of community life and keeping these animals healthy will help it to recover. Companion animals play a huge role in helping their owners cope in a disaster and get back on their feet once they are able to return home.
Being prepared for a disaster is crucial – it helps to mitigate the impact of potential events. Setting up plans and emergency legislation should be part of community preparation efforts. In reality, and with very few exceptions, animals are almost never included in disaster preparedness or related legislation. The FOUR PAWS European Policy Office therefore advocates a change to this status quo through the integration of animal welfare into disaster-related legislation on an international level, for example in EU legislation and UN conventions. According to the ‘One Welfare’ and ‘One Health’ approaches, humans, animals and their environment should be jointly taken into consideration.
- FOUR PAWS has supported the WOAH (former OIE) animal welfare platform for Europe to implement their guidelines on disaster management in the Balkan countries. Read more here: disastermanagement-ang.pdf (woah.org)
- Some Member States, such as Italy, have included animals in their disaster related legislation
- The European Parliament and Council have amended Decision No 1313/2013/EU on a Union Civil Protection Mechanism recognising the importance of animal welfare and wildlife in reducing the vulnerability of the population, stating:
"Actions to reduce the vulnerability of the population, economic activities, including critical infrastructure, animal welfare and wildlife, environmental and cultural resources such as biodiversity, forest ecosystem services and water resources, are of the utmost importance."
- Since 2018, the Rome Declaration of Stakeholders of the UNISDR recognises the importance of animals in reducing risk of disasters
- Being prepared is crucial. Prepare yourself and plan for your animals. Having a disaster plan and kit is always useful.
- If you have a role in drafting a disaster plan for your community, think about how to shelter farm and companion animals. The state of wildlife also affects the recovery of the community. FOUR PAWS can provide advice and expertise. Contact us.