Animal welfare impact following the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake: A preliminary report

S. Glassey, T.M. Wilson

Australasian Journal of Trauma and Disaster Studies, 2011-2 (Special Issue: A Focus on the Canterbury Earthquake), 49-59


At 4.35am on Saturday 4 September 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck near the township of Darfield in Canterbury leading to widespread damage in Christchurch and the wider central Canterbury region. Though it was reported no lives were lost, that was not entirely correct. Over 3,000 animals perished as a result of the earthquake and 99% of these deaths would have been avoidable if appropriate mitigation measures had been in place. Deaths were predominantly due to zoological vulnerability of birds in captive production farms. Other problems included lack of provision of animal welfare at evacuation centres, issues associated with multiple lost and found pet services, evacuation failure due to pet separation and stress impact on dairy herds and associated milk production. The Canterbury Earthquake has highlighted concerns over a lack of animal emergency welfare planning and capacity in New Zealand, an issue that is being progressed by the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management Group. As animal emergency management becomes better understood by emergency management and veterinary professionals, it is more likely that both sectors will have greater demands placed upon them by national guidelines and community expectations to ensure provisions are made to afford protection of animals in times of disaster. A subsequent and more devastating earthquake struck the region on Monday 22 February 2011; this article however is primarily focused on the events pertaining to the September 4 event.

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