Background: The management of large animals during disasters and emergencies creates difficult operational environments for responders. The aims of this study were to identify the exact challenges faced by Australian emergency response personnel in their interactions with large animals and their owners, and to determine the readiness for large animal rescue (LAR) in Australia.
Methods: A survey tool collected the views and experiences of a broad cross section of emergency services personnel operating across Australia and across all hazards. Data were collected from 156 responders including Australian emergency services personnel, emergency managers such as federal agricultural departments, and local government.
Results: Overall, many of the respondents had serious concerns, and felt that there were significant issues in relation to LAR in Australia. These included the coordination of emergency care for animals, physical management of large animals, inter-agency coordination, and dealing with animal owners. Very few respondents had received any formal training in LAR, with an overwhelming majority indicating they would attend formal training if it were made available.
Discussion: Results help to guide the development of evidence-informed support tools to assist operational response and community engagement, and the production of professional development resources.