A Survey of Companion-Animal Owners Affected by the East Japan Great Earthquake in Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures, Japan
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The unprecedented East Japan Great Earthquake in March 2011 impacted many humans as well as animals. To date, only national surveys that do not necessarily focus on the heavily impacted areas have been administered, and there is a lack of data on the situation for companion animals and their owners in these areas. This survey was administered between June and November 2012 to pet owners in Iwate (n = 140) and Fukushima (n = 149) Prefectures in north-eastern Japan, areas heavily affected by the disaster. It explored the types of disaster preparations for pets engaged in by owners; the situation on evacuation with pets; the use of, and need for, pet-related support after the disaster; and the associations between pet attachment and disaster-related behaviors of pet owners. In total, 41.2% (n = 119) of all respondents were able to evacuate with their pets, and evacuation rates were especially low in Fukushima. With the exception of preparation of pet food and other supplies, less than 50% of respondents engaged in different types of pet-related disaster preparations. Especially in Fukushima, those who evacuated with their pets were better prepared compared with those who could not. The rate of utilization of support was also low, with less than 50% of respondents utilizing each type of support, regardless of pet-evacuation status and area. The need for support was generally higher during the initial phase (immediately after the disaster; 30–40%) compared with the current phase (20–30%). However, in Fukushima the difference between the initial and current phases was not significant for both those who evacuated with their pets and those who could not. Bivariate analyses indicated mixed results for the association between disaster-related behaviors and pet attachment. Implications for future disaster-prevention measures are discussed.
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