19 Mar 2017

Annie Potts - Animals and earthquakes

From Sunday Morning, 10:35 am on 19 March 2017

A new book has revealed thousands of animals died in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake. 

Old brown dog

Photo: (jaymantri.com CC0)

The book written by University of Canterbury associate professor Annie Potts and Donelle Gadenne says the magnitude 7.1 quake killed at least 3000 chickens, eight cows, one dog, a lemur and 150 aquarium fish. 

It also explains what happened to the animals during and after the quake, and the many that followed, and looks at the importance of human-animal relationships. 

Annie Potts said about 70 per cent of New Zealanders have pets and losing one can be traumatic for families, especially in the wake of a disaster. 

Annie Potts

 Associate professor Annie Potts. Photo: supplied

"I heard stories about this, that those who didn't understand that human-animal bond would either trivialize or belittle their loss and I think that's something we really need to work on in New Zealand." 

She said it was also important to understand how animals can help people cope in times of crisis.

Associate professor Potts said finding data relating to how many animals were lost was difficult. 

"At that time, our Civil Defence and emergency management legislation didn't include statistics or data and we didn't really keep records about animal records or deaths."