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.

Connect with:
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

You might also like...

Check out some other posts from University of Delaware

1 min

Researchers find ‘narrow’ depictions of fatherhood in children’s literature

When children read picture books, they are often greeted with depictions of family and life lessons their young minds soak up. What happens then, when those depictions don’t offer a thoughtful image of gender or family as they have changed over the years? That is one of the questions University of Delaware Professor Bill Lewis and Social Science Research Analyst and UD alumna Laura Cutler explored in their recent paper, published in the quarterly journal Children's Literature in Education. In “Portraits of Fatherhood: Depictions of Fathers and Father–Child Relationships in Award-Winning Children’s Literature,” Lewis and Cutler looked at more than 80 children’s books to analyze how authors and publishers depicted fathers and fatherhood. What they found was that over a span of nearly 20 years, from 2001 to 2020, these books presented "a narrow view of fatherhood," both in what roles fathers have in familial units and which types of fathers are presented. They also noted that these portrayals have remained relatively static over the last two decades. Lewis, a professor in the College of Education and Human Development’s School of Education, broke down what spurred the research and what he and Cutler hope changes as a result of the research in a new Q&A. Contact mediarelations@udel.edu to set up an interview with Lewis.

1 min

Professors address students' climate anxiety

Professors at the University of Delaware preparing students for careers working on climate change are making sure to consider mental health issues as they send them out into the world. UD's Climate Change Science and Policy Hub, led by director A.R. Siders, is starting a series of initiatives – on campus and in the region – to tackle the challenge of what is known as climate anxiety. This involves traditional trainings but also innovations with creativity, art, video games and play. "Learning about and working on climate change causes climate anxiety, ecogrief, solastalgia – there’s a whole new set of terms being created just to describe the problem," said Siders, also an associate professor in UD's Disaster Research Center and Biden School of Public Policy and Administration. "This is a real mental health concern." This new way of approaching climate education has become even more critical as universities expand climate education – such as new climate schools, degrees, courses and even embedding it in general education courses, Siders said. The U.S. government is supporting a growing climate workforce, and it is expected that more people will work in climate-related careers. To reach Siders and set up an interview, visit her profile and click on the "contact" link. This will automatically send an email directly to her.

1 min

Those flying spiders are harmless; don't tell that to arachnophobes

A breed of flying arachnids known as Joro spiders are headed to the northeast this summer, specifically Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Experts say there's nothing to fear, but that doesn't make them any less scary to those who have an issue with the eight-legged bug eaters. Two University of Delaware experts can provide insight and (some) comfort regarding any potential risk to humans. Brian Kunkel, an expert in landscape and household insects and entomology for ornamentals with UD's Cooperative Extension, confirmed the yellow and black spider will be making its arrival in the Tri-State area but said it isn't likely to be noticed until the fall, when it grows to visible size. Regardless, there is no need to be concerned. In the unlikely event that it bites, you would feel something akin to a bee sting, Kunkel said. Doug Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, confirmed the spiders are on the way but echoed Kunkel's assessment that there is nothing to be worried about. To set up an interview with Kunkel, send an email to mediarelations@udel.edu. If interested in an interview with Tallamy, visit his profile and click on the contact button.

View all posts