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Monday, October 15, 2007

Nearly Half of Americans Won't Flee Without Fido

Flood waters may be approaching. Wild fires could be closing in. Yet 47 percent of Americans surveyed would refuse rescue assistance if it meant leaving without their family pet.

The statistic is perhaps the most eye-opening finding in a new study from the American Humane Association that sought to gauge the strength of the human-animal bond and public attitudes toward the rescue of animals during times of crisis.

The study also found that nearly three out of four people surveyed (72 percent) agree that there should be formal evacuation plans for pets. Not surprisingly, the support for formal disaster plans for pets and companion animals was strongest in the South (74 percent) and West (76 percent), areas most closely associated with hurricanes and wildfires.

"After Hurricane Katrina, American Humane and other groups rescued nearly 10,000 animals," says Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane. "We have been first-hand witnesses to the power of the animal-human bond since our founding in 1877, but there's nothing more powerful than seeing a man or woman refuse rescue efforts because there is
not a rescue lined up for their family pet. This survey brings to light that rescue coordinators need to have plans in place for animal rescue. If they don't, more people could be left in harm's way."

The study surveyed 1,000 adults to gauge their attitudes and level of preparedness surrounding disasters. Areas of research included determining the public interest in formal evacuation plans for pets, policy surrounding ownership of pets that become lost in a disaster, and the steps people have taken to prepare their pet for a disaster.

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