Abstract: A new study reveals the psychological and safety risks associated with forcibly separating people from their pets in crises such as domestic violence and natural disasters. Research highlights the deep emotional bonds between humans and pets.
The lack of support services that accommodate both exacerbates risks during crises. Key findings emphasize the need for comprehensive crisis planning and support services that consider the human-animal bond.
- The study reviewed 27 years of research focusing on human-animal bonds in crisis situations, including domestic violence, homelessness and natural disasters.
- Findings show that a lack of pet support services leads many people to delay or avoid seeking safety, putting them at risk of psychological distress and potential abuse or death of their pets.
- Recommendations include adding pet protections to domestic violence services, expanding pet-friendly disaster evacuation plans, and ensuring pet-friendly housing for the homeless.
Source: Taylor and Francis Group
Pet owners forced to be separated from their animals in crisis situations, including those who are victims of domestic violence, lack the support services needed to protect them.
These are the findings of a new review of 27 years of international research, published in a peer-reviewed journal. Anthrozoswhich highlights the increased risks to both safety and psychological well-being when people face the threat of forced separation from their pets.
The findings provide important insights into dealing with challenges arising from domestic violence, homelessness or natural disasters that can threaten the bond between humans and their pets.
The new research was conducted today by James Cook University PhD candidate Jasmine Montgomery and Associate Professors Janice Lloyd and Zhanming Liang of James Cook University in Australia.
“Our findings suggest that strong emotional attachments between people and animals can lead to risk for both in situations where that bond is threatened,” explains lead author Ms Montgomery.
“When people are forced to leave in the context of a crisis situation, such as natural disasters, homelessness or domestic violence, it can result in psychological distress and threats to their health, and health and safety. Really impressed.
“Sadly, the review also confirmed that a common outcome for pets in domestic violence cases was abuse and/or death.”
The research team reviewed 42 studies on human-animal relationships and separation situations in scenarios related to domestic violence, homelessness and natural disasters.
Ms Montgomery said her findings highlight concerns about the safety and well-being of pets and a lack of support are key factors in people’s reluctance to flee their homes when affected by domestic violence.
“In many cases of domestic violence, there is evidence to suggest that people will delay leaving their relationship to protect their pets,” she said.
“This is often because there is a lack of shelters or housing that can accommodate pets, or a lack of trust in formal support systems that they will not be separated from their pets.
“In cases where pets are threatened, victims may be lured by the perpetrator, which also poses a significant risk to their safety.”
Natural disasters were equally challenging, with the possibility that someone would return for their pet during a period of danger or stay behind to protect their pet – putting themselves and others at risk.
Clearly, the review found that human “superiority” and disparities regarding who is responsible for pet welfare became embedded in systemic support for people and their pets who were helped during the crisis. There was a need.
Ms Montgomery said there was a need for a change in mindset to take into account the needs of pets and the complexities they face, when it comes to planning for crisis situations and providing services that help victims in the moment. .
“Often, it is expected that people will choose human interests over animals at all costs, without considering the common bond between humans and animals,” he said.
“We need to start taking our pets and the value of our pets very seriously. And, as a collective in the community, share that responsibility and address the needs of pets in policy development, legislation, Providing services and housing in these areas to prevent unacceptable outcomes such as animal abuse or death.”
To reduce the risks associated with forced separation, the team identified several key recommendations including:
- including questions about pets in services that support women experiencing domestic violence seeking asylum; providing housing together for women, children and pets; and increasing cooperation with services that can help animals.
- Increase disaster evacuation plans that include resources such as transportation and shelters that accommodate both people and their pets.
- Ensure the availability of pet-friendly housing for people in homelessness situations.
This latest study serves as an important resource for professionals and organizations committed to addressing the challenges posed by forced separation, providing a comprehensive overview of the human-animal bond and vulnerable conditions. Its effects on individuals.
However, the authors highlighted some limitations of the study, including the focus on English-language peer-reviewed articles, potentially ignoring diverse cultural contexts, and the complexity of animal-related keywords. Leads to omission of relevant articles.
About this psychological research news
Original research: Open access.
“A scoping review of forced separation between people and their companion animals“By Jasmine Montgomery et al. Anthrozos
A scoping review of forced separation between people and their companion animals
People often form strong emotional attachments to their companion animals. When that relationship is threatened by forced separation, people may risk their own safety and well-being to protect and stay with their companion animal.
This scoping review maps the perceptions, evidence, and impacts of forced separation between people and their companion animals across the categories of domestic violence, homelessness, and natural disasters.
Five relevant databases were searched: Medline Ovid, Psychinfo, Scopus, CINAHL, and EMCARE Ovid. Forty-two articles on human-animal relationships and separation situations were included in the analysis, which revealed devastating consequences for companion animals, with animal death and loss prominent in all three types of forced separation.
Significant psychological distress and increased risk to people’s safety were found in all three categories. Risks people have taken to avoid forced separation include failure to evacuate to safety during natural disasters, delays in escaping abusive relationships, and prolonged homelessness while waiting for suitable housing for pets. included. Responsibility (who is responsible for the animal) and the cultural belief that human well-being is superior to animals.
This scoping review identified research evidence and gaps in the domains of domestic violence, health, homelessness, natural disasters, and animal welfare. It will assist researchers, policy makers, and service providers working in these fields to understand the specifics and complexities of situations involving the forced separation of people and their companion animals.