Many animals die in natural disasters and fires. Often it would be possible to save many of them if humans chose to. Until recently, nonhuman animals have been disregarded in rescue plans for natural disasters, but this is now starting to change. As concern for animals grows in society, there is more social pressure for them to be cared for in these situations. As a result, there are more and more cases in which animals are saved from natural disasters.
Animals in fires
Fires occur regularly in nature. Many fires are started by human beings either accidentally or deliberately, but not all are started by humans. Fires can start due to lightning, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Of course, how a fire starts is beside the point; if we care about nonhuman animals the key point is that huge numbers of animals suffer and die in fires. It is sometimes possible to help these animals, and it is sometimes already done. Many people think that animals should be helped if they are caught in fires, especially animals living in human homes. See mouth-to-snout-resuscitation, or another firefighter resuscitating a dog for some examples involving dogs; see also a firefighter rescuing a cat, a hamster rescue and a rescue of rabbits.
There have also been cases in which animals have been helped or rescued from fires, or the effects of fire, in the wild. The following are some examples:
Animals in floods
As Weather conditions and animals explains, animals are often gravely affected by climatic phenomena. Massive numbers of animals are constantly facing death from exposure, by drowning, or due to starvation or thirst as a consequence of harsh weather conditions. Animals in natural disasters goes into this in detail.
Fortunately, however, there have been many cases in which animals have been saved in such situations. This has happened, for instance, in cases of floods:
Animals in other natural disasters
Animals have also been saved from other kinds of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, avalanches, and volcanoes:
Anderson, A. & Anderson, L. (2006) Rescued: Saving animals from disaster, New World Library: Novato.
Bovenkerk, B.; Stafleu, F.; Tramper, R.; Vorstenbosch, J. & Brom, F. W. A. (2003) “To act or not to act? Sheltering animals from the wild: A pluralistic account of a conflict between animal and environmental ethics”, Ethics, Place and Environment, 6, pp. 13-26.
Faria, C. & Paez, E. (2015) “Animals in need: The problem of wild animal suffering and intervention in nature”, Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, 3 (1), pp. 7-13 [accessed on 6 November 2015].
Hunt, M. G.; Bogue, K. & Rohrbaugh, N. (2012) “Pet ownership and evacuation prior to Hurricane Irene”, Animals, 2, pp. 529-539.
Irvine, L. (2006) “Animals in disasters: Issues for animal liberation activism and policy”, Journal of Critical Animal Studies, 4, pp. 2-16.
Kirkwood, J. K.; Sainsbury, A. W. & Bennett, P. M. (1994) “The welfare of free-living wild animals: Methods of assessment”, Animal Welfare, 3, pp. 257-273.
Nolen, R. S. (2006) “Congress orders disaster planners to account for pets”, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229, p. 1357.
Nussbaum, M. C. (2006) Frontiers of justice: Disability, nationality, species membership, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
United States Department of Agriculture (2016) “Companion animals”, Emergencies and Disaster Planning [accessed on 18 January 2016].
White, S. (2012) “Companion animals, natural disasters and the law: An Australian perspective”, Animals, 2, pp. 380-394.