On September 20th, 2017, category four Hurricane Maria rattled Puerto Rico, causing extensive damage throughout the island. While the experiences, injuries, and deaths of humans resulting from Hurricane Maria have received both scholarly consideration and large amounts of attention from media sources, one critical area that has been overlooked by many, particularly academics, are the ways in which various media sources have reported on, described and discussed nonhuman animals impacted by the storm. This study aimed to address this gap by analyzing media reports of nonhuman animals throughout the days before, during, and after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Mixed method content analysis was conducted on fifty-five media reports found to contain discussion of nonhuman animals and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, though a majority of the analyses were qualitative in nature. Analyses resulted in the identification of a variety of themes found to be emergent from the data. Themes explored include nonhuman animal abandonment, insufficient shelters, damaged shelters and lack of resources, collaboration between nonhuman animal welfare organizations, spay/neuter practices, positive descriptions of satos, bringing nonhuman animals to the U.S. mainland, a second chance at life for nonhuman animals, and the hierarchical arrangement of nonhuman animals presented within media reports. Results of the study point towards the need for greater planning and resource allocation in regard to nonhuman animals in Puerto Rico both during times of disaster and everyday life. The spay and neuter infrastructure and the animal shelters on the island are especially in need of resources. Additionally, the results indicate that the media sources examined placed their main focus on dogs and cats impacted by the storm, suggesting that these species of nonhuman animals hold a spot towards the top of the American nonhuman animal hierarchical arrangement.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Jagoda, Nathan, "Tails in the Wind: An Exploratory Examination of Media Reports on Nonhuman Animals Throughout Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6702.