Psychological Impact of the Animal-Human Bond in Disaster Preparedness and Response

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The authors present an overview of the impact of the animal-human bond on disaster management and highlight the need to further examine the relationship of animals and humans in disaster response. The human connection to animals influences compliance with individual and community evacuation plans. Search and rescue teams with canine units confront physical and emotional demands that affect both handler and animal. The culling of animal populations on a scale such as occurred during the recent foot-and-mouth epidemic in the United Kingdom affects every member of rural society. Livestock farmers and their families endure enormous emotional losses, and veterinarians and government officials who must implement these programs suffer as well. A familiarity with and understanding of these issues is important for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who are involved in disaster preparedness and response.

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