Large Animal Rescue: The Human Factors

Animals are usually considered the most dangerous and unpredictable element of Large Animal Rescue (Thompson et al 2015). Their dangerous behaviours are usually attributed to their natural instincts – fight or flight. But humans too have their own natural instincts that can introduce risk to an LAR. In addition, their responses are subject to their own socio-cultural positioning. Their different roles can lead to miscommunication, conflict and increased risk to humans and animals alike. In this presentation, I consider three main groups of humans involved in LAR – owners, responders and vets. I consider their expectations, knowledge and perceptions and likely areas of conflict during a rescue. By providing insight into the ways in which different groups think, and presenting some basic communications strategies from the medical and veterinary literature, the audience is encouraged to reconsider and improve their own interpersonal communications during LARs.

1. The human factors of LAR are equally if not more important than the animal factors
2. Owners, responders and vets have different expectations, knowledge and perceptions of LAR events
3. Mutual understanding and basic communications strategies can improve the interactions of the various humans of LAR.

Dr Kirrilly Thompson PhD Senior Research Fellow Central Queensland University Appleton Institute

Kirrilly is a trained anthropologist who uses ethnographic methods to research the cultural dimensions of risk-perception and safety. She has particular interests in human-animal interactions, high risk interspecies activities and equestrianism.

Kirrilly is currently leading a 3 yr Australian Research Council DECRA project titled ‘Should I stay or should I go? Increasing natural disaster preparedness and survival through animal attachment’.

She recently received a prestigious Top 5 Under 40 Awards for Science Communication.
Kirrilly is the Vice Chair of the Horse Federation of South Australia and the President Elect of the Society for Risk Analysis Australia and New Zealand.

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