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CUP book

Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes

20 November 2023

By Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne 


November 2014
276pp, paperback
230 x 170mm, full-colour illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-927145-50-0

After the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that shook Canterbury on 4 September 2010, the news media initially reported, with understandable relief, that no lives had been lost. In fact, this first quake killed at least 3000 chickens, eight cows, one dog, a lemur and 150 aquarium fish, and was only the first in a series of even more catastrophic quakes that were to follow, in which many humans and animals perished. Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes reveals what happened to animals during and after these quakes, and asks what we can learn from these events and from our response to them.

Animals in Emergencies Learning from the Christchurch Earthquakes

The accounts of professionals and volunteers involved in the rescue, shelter and advocacy of the city’s animals post-quakes are presented in the first part of the book, and are followed by the tales of individual animals; together they provide a compelling historical record of how the earthquakes affected human–animal relationships in both positive and negative ways.

In New Zealand we share our lives with a variety of companion animals including dogs, cats, horses, fish, birds, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and turtles; the stories of how the earthquakes affected them are sometimes heart-breaking and often heart-warming. The book also reports on the fate of urban wildlife such as hedgehogs and seabirds, and considers the particular risks to the animals that are most vulnerable when disasters strike – those confined on farms and in laboratories.

Animals in Emergencies: Learning from the Christchurch earthquakes shows the importance of human–animal relationships for healing and rebuilding damaged lives, reminding us that as our animals help us cope during times of crisis, they also depend on us. This book urges us not to overlook animals in emergencies and provides helpful and practical advice on how best to prepare for their safety and welfare should the worst happen.

Annie Potts is an associate professor and co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human–Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury. She is the author of Chicken (Reaktion Books) and a coauthor of A New Zealand Book of Beasts: Animals in our culture, history and everyday life (AUP). Annie recently received the New Zealand Companion Animal Council’s Assisi Animal Welfare Award and was their representative on the National Animal Welfare Emergency Management advisory group from 2011 until 2014.

Donelle Gadenne qualified as a veterinary nurse in Perth, WA and worked at more than 23 veterinary practices in Australia, as a locum at a surgical referral centre and a university-based veterinary training hospital. In 2011 she graduated from Edith Cowan University with a BA in Writing, Editing and International Cultural Studies. In 2013 Donelle relocated to Christchurch to complete an MA in English at the New Zealand Centre for Human–Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury.

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