Pets are considered to be part of the family and livestock are vitally important for economic reasons. Increasingly, even in case of immediate danger, we see that people will refuse to evacuate and leave their house if that means they have to abandon their animals. Sometimes they will also come back to a disaster area to recover their animals without authorisation and before it is actually safe to do so.
On 14 July, the inhabitants of Cazaux were evacuated without their animals, not knowing when they would be able to come back to get them and if they would then still be alive. Thanks to a coordinated operation by local parties, these people were able to find their animals a few days later, but soon after the convoys for the evacuation of animals had to be stopped again because of fires resuming in the area.
"The reunification of pets with their families is essential to regain some stability and security for both the animal and its human protector," adds Céline Sissler-Bienvenu. “When people who have had to flee without their pets return home and discover that their pets are dead or missing, they have more difficulty rehabilitating and resuming a normal life than those who find their pets alive and well.”
Rescuing pets and livestock is vital to the resilience of local communities, both during and after a disaster. IFAW, therefore, calls on European governments and other stakeholders to properly plan for the evacuation of animals and the sheltering of pets with their owners. Disaster management actors need to work closely together with animal welfare organisations and veterinarians to integrate animals and animal care into pre- and post-disaster planning efforts.
ifaw is ready to support animals affected by the fires
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