Policy on evacuation with companion animals, societal opinion and that of Dutch veterinarians.
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Forced evacuation of disaster areas without taking care of pets has shown to have major psychological consequences for pet owners. The Netherlands are constant at risk for floods since the most densely populated areas lie beneath sea-level. However there is no policy regarding pet evacuation in the Netherlands. To investigate if there is enough support from the population and Dutch veterinarians for the development of a national policy regarding pets during disasters, two surveys were conducted. One survey was held among volunteers of the evacuation exercise “Waterwolf”. This survey was designed to evaluate if there was support for a new policy, investigate the determinants for quicker evacuation and evaluate the evacuation with pets during the exercise. In our small sample of 50 people most people supported the idea for a disaster policy regarding pets. Stimulating factors for evacuation seem to be under-aged children at home, other people in the neighbourhood evacuating as well, organised emergency shelters for people and collaboration between news networks and the government regarding risk communication towards people. At last the evacuation with animals was evaluated and the biggest problem was caused by rescuers that didn’t know that animals also participated in the exercise and what to do with them. The second survey for Dutch veterinarians investigate the mind-set of vets towards a new disaster policy and communication framework regarding pets. This survey was completed in only 55 times. In this small sample 41 veterinarians agreed that a national policy regarding disaster care for pets would be useful. 27 vets voted that this policy should look like the HAROP model that is being used by Dutch general practitioners to prepare for an incident.