Households with pets are considered a high-risk population, presenting many challenges to response and recovery efforts. Research indicates that households with pets are less likely to evacuate during disasters, and pets left behind pose a health risk to relief workers and the general public. This pilot study explores a brief education intervention targeting households with pets as a method of increasing general household preparedness, with the purpose of facilitating evacuation and protective behaviors in this population.
A convenience sample of households with pets was recruited to participate in a one-group pre- and post-survey design evaluating the impact of a brief education intervention on increasing pet-specific and general household preparedness levels.
Results suggest that the sample population was below national estimates in basic household preparedness before the intervention. Post-survey results indicate an increase in completion of some preparedness tasks after the intervention. There was a statistically significant increase in overall pet preparedness at the P=0.10 level; however, that difference did not translate into general household preparedness.
The findings from this study are consistent with those from previous literature suggesting that persons often place the needs of their pets above their own; however, the use of a brief education intervention may be successful in increasing pet-specific preparedness levels, which may be useful in successful evacuation and pet well-being. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:441–445)