The purpose of this research was to understand the ways in which ownership of companion animals influences evacuation decision-making, using Hurricane Matthew of 2016 as a case study. Using stated-choice surveys, this research identifies behavioral decisions made during and after the evacuations associated with the hurricane, and details how decisions were made for different types of pets and the various stressors and problems encountered during the evacuation process. The data were collected via a web-based survey posted in pets’ interest and animal rescue groups following Hurricane Matthew. Respondents lived in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Findings suggest that respondents had transportation logistics problems evacuating with their animals, and respondents with cats were more likely to leave some of their pets behind when they evacuated. Sheltering decisions and the wellbeing of pets also were themes identified from the data, especially as it relates to stress and attachment to animals. Implications from this research include a closer examination of how human–animal bonds can affect the ways in which evacuation and sheltering unfold. If humans have plans and access to resources for their pets during evacuations, they may be more likely to adhere to evacuation orders and to experience less stress throughout the process.
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