Sarah E. DeYoung and Ashley K. Farmer / Temple University Press / 223 pages
In 2005, hundreds of thousands of companion animals died or were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Pictures of abandoned pets taking refuge on the roofs of cars and houses flooded the media. This tragedy highlighted the disturbing lack of laws and policies to protect animals from harm during natural disasters. In 2006, Congress passed the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act to provide a foundation for protecting animals in disaster scenarios. But gaps in coverage and enforcement make it necessary for private groups and individuals to continue stepping in.
In All Creatures Safe and Sound: The Social Landscape of Pets in Disasters, Sarah DeYoung and Ashley Farmer critique individual and group responses to natural disasters since Hurricane Katrina and articulate tangible solutions for each problem they address. The authors highlight the importance of taking the needs of animals into consideration during planning, rescue, and recovery efforts, not only for the welfare of the animals, but for humans as well, as companion animals play an integral part in people’s evacuation and reentry decisions.
DeYoung and Farmer interviewed program coordinators and evacuees who had dealt with hurricanes, wildfires, and lava flows. Harrowing, frustrating, and inspirational stories are interspersed throughout the book. (Many of these anecdotes are upsetting, which may be a factor in choosing whether to read the book.)
All Creatures Safe and Sound is an ideal read for anyone with a professional, academic, or personal connection to the fields of disaster relief and animal welfare. It is a vital addition to disaster relief studies, because it recognizes an increasingly important but overwhelmingly ignored group. Unfortunately, the lessons in this book will only become more imperative as the number and size of natural disasters grow due to climate change.