Looking back at challenges pet owners faced after Maui's devastating wildfires

Sep 5, 2023

1 min

Sarah DeYoung

The deadly wildfires that ravaged Maui in August left thousands of people homeless. Many of them had companion animals – in fact, an estimated 3,000 pets were still missing more than a week later.

Sarah DeYoung, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice and core faculty with the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, is an expert on evacuation decision-making for people with companion animals and what happens to pets after disasters. DeYoung, who conducted research in Hawaii after the 2018 lava flows on Big Island, can discuss various aspects related to evacuation and care of pets after last month's wildfires.

In a piece published by The Conversation last month, she discussed:

  • What happens to pets after a catastrophic fire: Time is always a major factor in an owner's ability to save their pet when disaster strikes. The rush might also cause owners to forget carriers or leashes.
  • Extra challenges with disasters on an island: Islands have limited space for the boarding and care of displaced animals. Nearly all of Hawaii’s animal shelters were already at full capacity due to the state’s pet overpopulation.
  • Long-term problems for animal recovery: People sometimes surrender their pets after disasters because they can’t find temporary housing that allows dogs or cats, or due to breed restrictions. A wave of animal surrenders causes already full shelters to become overcrowded.

DeYoung is available for interviews. To contact her, simply click on the contact button on her profile.

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Sarah DeYoung

Sarah DeYoung

Associate Professor, Sociology & Criminal Justice

Prof. DeYoung's expertise is in maternal and child health in crisis and disaster settings, with a focus on infant feeding in emergencies.

Evacuation Decision-makingCompanion Animals in DisastersMaternal & Infant Health in DisastersRefugee & Immigrant Well-beingPsychological Sense of Community

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