animals in disasters

The Loyal Wait: Disaster incidences where dogs have manifested their incredible loyalty



For centuries, dogs have been labeled as \"Man's Best Friend\" offering companionship and displaying loyalty to their masters, owners and companions.

Man's Best Friend

For centuries, dogs have been labeled as "Man's Best Friend" offering companionship and displaying loyalty to their masters, owners, and companions. This has been evidently reported in many situations and no doubt today they have become the universal symbol of loyalty. Dogs have a real knack of rising to the occasion, especially during troubled times and disaster situations. Some of the disaster incidences given below will tell you why we tend to visualize a dog whenever we strike a conversation on being faithful or trustworthy.


A Japanese dog showed remarkable loyalty by staying by the side of a fellow pet injured in a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japanese news reported that the two animals were caught in the tsunami and magnitude 9 quake. The dog, brown and white coloured spaniel-cross remained at the side of his wounded friend in the wake of the tsunami, refused to leave the side of his companion - even stopped rescuers from getting close, miraculously both survived and were rescued to safety (Mar 2011)[1].


Druzhok which means “Little Friend” in English who swam back to his own home to protect it against the rising tide of cold water and became a symbol of hope around the world. His house in the village of Vladimirovka (Russia) was one of the thousands submerged by the worst floods to hit the Amur region in 120 years, with an area almost as large as Texas and California combined affected. The four-year-old dog had originally escaped to safety with his family, but after three days suddenly vanished. He was found back on the doorstep of his own home sitting in neck-deep cold water for 2 days and waiting for his owners (Mar 2015)[2].


Andy and Brandi Bouchillon were driving to take shelter in a local school as a tornado ripped through their hometown of Van, Texas - that's when the twister flipped their SUV. Their 2-week-old daughter, Bailey, and their dog, Tater (a Terrier), were in the car when it was lifted off the ground and spun around. After the dust settled, the Bouchillons rushed their infant daughter to the hospital; in all the devastation, they weren't sure if Tater had survived. But when they returned to their overturned SUV the next day, they got the happy ending they were hoping for - sitting among the wreckage was Tater, unharmed and happily waiting to see them (May 2015)[3].


A 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador left 7,000 ruined homes, 12,000 injured and 650 casualties. Amid rescue efforts hoping to find signs of life, a devastating sight was witnessed by one photographer. A dirty and sad dog was seen waiting for his owner to return, in the middle of their ruined home in Ecuador. It was later found out that the dog's name is Max and his owner was one of the casualties during the earthquake (Apr 2016)[4].


A dog has been seen waiting for more than 80 days on the road where its owner died in a car accident. The animal was spotted waiting patiently by the road in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia where its owner died in August. This owner's relationship with her dog was very deep. After she was killed, this little dog has just stayed standing guard. Footage of the loyal dog has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on the Chinese social media website Sina Weibo (Aug 2018)[5]. 


Madison, an Anatolian shepherd dog’s devotion to his homemade it to the national headlines after his owner found him guarding the property weeks after the residence and the surrounding areas were burned to the ground by Northern California’s campfire. Anatolian shepherd dogs are mainly used as guard dogs for livestock in their native Turkey. They are known for their great protective skills and loyalty. (Dec 2018)[6].


A gentle, brown Mongrel has been sitting by the landslide spot in Kavalappara in Kerala’s Malappuram district (India) waiting for its masters for several days. Whenever the rescuers announced they have spotted a body, the dog rushed towards the site with Sunil, the uncle of the 3 missing boys, Kishor (9), Kamal (13) and Karthik (15). Disappointed each time that his masters remain untraced, the dog returns to the spot and sits snout resting between his paws, eyes closed but ears alert. Sumesh, Sunil’s neighbour said, “The dog comes to search the spot every morning and it stays there until evening” (Aug 2019)[7].      

Likewise, globally there are hundreds of such incidences, in most cases, they are neither documented nor reported, where dogs have time and again demonstrated their strong emotional bonding with people and their companions. Simultaneously, there are initiatives by agencies in developing websites and mobile applications to reunite lost pets with their families after disasters which are appreciated, however, we still need to encourage more innovative ideas for upscaling them for effective implementation. Therefore, we urge the countries and governments to develop disaster risk reduction strategies for addressing the welfare of animals from disasters along with psychological first aid and counselling for the disaster affected animal owners.     

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