Successive Earthquakes Raised Attention of Taiwanese Pet Owners to “Pet Disaster Prevention”

On April 3, 2024, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale occurred in Hualien, Taiwan, with aftershocks of various sizes. This not only prompted animal rights groups to call for animal rescue to be included in the “Disaster Prevention and Protection Act”, but also inspired many cat and dog owners to be aware of the importance of pet disaster prevention and the preparations needed which would enable one to safely escape with her furry child when disaster strikes.

In fact, as early as 2020 when the Russian war on Ukrainian broke out, the World Dog Alliance (WDA) saw many dogs and cats being abandoned and displaced, so it came up with the idea of building a large movable kennel for emergency placement of dogs. As of May 2024, WDA has donated 60 sets of these portable shelters to the New Taipei City Animal Protection Office in Taiwan to prepare for emergencies.

The picture on the left is the “Pet Disaster Prevention and Protection Promotion Manual” compiled by the Kaohsiung City Animal Protection Office, and the picture on the right is the Pet Disaster Prevention Cool Card printed by the Caring for Life Association.

The Hualien earthquake caused a residential building to tumble and tilt. Under the watchful eyes of the public, 5 cats and 10 chickens trapped inside were all rescued by careful engineering personnel. However, animal lovers still floated the idea to include animal rescue provisions in the “Disaster Prevention and Protection Law” and called for the establishment of a professional animal rescue team. This petition campaign has received support and signatures from nearly 3,000 people.

However, for many more pet owners, post-disaster rescue is far less important than pre-disaster prevention and a safe escape. They therefore look to the information on pet disaster prevention, such as pet disaster prevention kits that are available on the market. As early as 2016, the Kaohsiung City Animal Protection Department in Taiwan produced a “Pet Disaster Prevention and Protection Promotional Handbook” following on the example of Tokyo, Japan. It covers the concepts of owner’s responsibility and disaster prevention, and flys the banner of “Pet Disaster Prevention 3Rs,” with the 3Rs being Ready, Refuge, and Responsibility.

The World Dog Alliance has developed a large, removable and mobile kennel that can be used as an emergency shelters in disasters. New Taipei City, Taiwan has received 60 sets of these shelters.

In addition to the Kaohsiung City Animal Protection Office’s active promotion of pet disaster prevention manuals, the animal protection group Caring for Life Association is also committed to promoting the concept of pet disaster prevention. The latter’s “Animal Protection Rooted Education Platform” targeted lower, middle and upper grade students at elementary schools offering three sets of lesson plans for teachers’ use. This allows students to not only establish the concept of disaster prevention, but also understand how to protect cats and dogs.

According to Pet Disaster Prevention Cool Card printed by the Care for Life Association, pet owners should keep a disaster prevention practice, including microchipping cats and dogs, socialization training, establishing relationships with neighbors for mutual help, and collecting disaster prevention and evacuation information. This educational promotion has been carried out since 2018. Inspired by the Hualien earthquake this year, it is hoped that the concept of pet disaster prevention can get across to all textbook publishers, thereby have the promoting the opportunity for this concept to be selected into the textbooks so that more students can be exposed to it. 

As for what essential items should be included in a pet disaster prevention bag? Drinking water and food come first, followed by diaper pads, pet health record cards and owner’s contact information, followed by soothing toys, warm clothing, etc. Seeing this, maybe you already have your own plans and are determined to prepare a disaster prevention bag for your furry child!

The essential items in a pet disaster prevention bag as drawn up by a practitioner in the pet industry.