Animals must be included in our disaster planning and response systems, according to Dr Ian Dacre from the World Society of Protection of Animals (WSPA). At the national Australian Veterinary Conference in Canberra (20-25 May 2012), Dr Dacre will demonstrate how veterinarians can help when disaster strikes.
Ian Dacre’s experience
Dr Dacre, a global disaster management expert, has worked throughout the Asia-Pacific region to rescue animals following natural disasters most recently including the Bangkok floods 2011, Japan’s tsunami 2011, Queensland floods 2011, Fiji cyclone Thomas 2010 and Haiti’s earthquake 2010.
At the conference, Dr Dacre will show that a growing world population and higher demand for food animals make the role of the vet even more critical in minimising the impact of natural disasters.
Vets should be at centre of disaster planning
Presently around 60 billion animals are used to produce food around the world each year and this number could double by 2050. The majority of this increase in production is forecast to come from intensive, indoor livestock systems. This makes disasters even more disastrous if plans to counteract them are not put in place at the earliest possible opportunity with vets at the centre of the planning.
The WSPA expert will argue that both livestock and pets must be included in disaster management plans.
Dr Ian Dacre said: “An event is considered to be a ‘disaster’ if it has caused sufficient damage that the affected community is not able to cope by itself.
“Following events such as the Victorian bushfires the public has become more aware of how such events can impact animals and there is a general feeling that something must be done.
“Positive steps have already been undertaken, such as the development of the Victorian Emergency Animal Welfare Plan and initiatives by the federal government to look at how national coordination may be best implemented in Australia.”
Dr Dacre added that there is still more work to be done and greater consideration of the role of veterinarians in society.
“Veterinarians are there not only to serve as vaccination clinics, but to take on the greater role of having a duty of care to all the animals in our community. There is never a greater need than when a disaster has just struck.”