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Q & A: Seeking Higher Ground for Animals in Disasters

Author Leslie Irvine argues for better catastrophe planning and a new view of animals

Author Leslie Irvine argues for better catastrophe planning and a new view of animals

Sociologist Leslie Irvine, shown with a rescued dog at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Louisiana in 2005, used her post-Hurricane Katrina volunteer work to inform her latest book, Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters. LEE THEISEN-WATT
Sociologist Leslie Irvine recently released her second animal-related book: Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters (Temple University Press). Irvine began studying animals in disasters following Hurricane Charley in 2004, and volunteered to aid the animal rescue efforts when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. Her Katrina experiences add a ground-level perspective to Filling the Ark, which examines the risks that disasters pose for pets, factory farm animals, birds and marine wildlife, and animals used in research.

The book, which takes its title from the biblical story of Noah, begins by asking how we decide who gets to enter the ark, then offers a blueprint for making animals safer in disasters. Irvine’s suggestions range from better preparation by pet owners and government authorities to the creation of more sustainable farms that would put fewer animals at risk. Irvine mixes policy recommendations with calls for rethinking our view of animals and how we contribute to making them vulnerable.

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