The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the tsunami in Indonesia a couple years ago, begs the question, can dogs sense earthquakes and other natural disasters?
From a scientific perspective, the evidence is inconclusive about whether or not a dog can sense and predict earthquakes and other natural disasters, but some people believe that dogs and other animals are good at predicting such dangers and are able to warn us minutes before an earthquake is about to occur.
For hundreds of years people have believed that dogs, cats, and other animals have abilities to predict earthquakes. And that trend has continued today.
In 2003, a doctor from Japan, Kiyoshi Shimamura, claimed that public health records indicated an unusual increase in dog barking just before the 1995 earthquake hit Kobe. However, seismologists are reluctant to accept behaviors like that as conclusive evidence that dogs are able to make predictions about natural disasters. Especially since several studies have already been attempted to understand the behavior of dogs before an earthquake.
In another example, some people claim that earthquakes can be predicted by looking for an increase in the number of missing pet ads in areas prone to earthquakes. The theory suggests that dogs and others pets will leave an area before an earthquake hits, resulting in an increased number of missing pets. Once again, research studies have show that there is no correlation to support these claims.
On the other hand, many people have commented on a surprising lack of animal carcasses after the tsunami hit Indonesia. They suggest that the animals somehow sensed the coming disaster and left the area before the tsunami hit. One theory for this reaction is that animals can sense vibrations and tremors underground prior to a natural disaster occurring, so they up and leave.
However, I think this would more be an extension of a dog’s normal senses rather than some sort of magical sixth sense able to predict an impending natural disaster.
It must be said that dogs do have some senses that are more sensitive than human senses. So, it is possible that they may be able to detect smells, sounds, and vibrations before we are able to tell that something is happening. It is also true that dogs can predict certain things, like that a seizure is about to occur. However, in examples like these, the dogs seem to be detecting certain physical and chemical signs before they can be picked up by humans.
Dogs also seem to be able to use their senses in other unusual and often extraordinary ways as well. There are countless stories of dogs finding their way home after traveling hundred of miles. So it seems possible that dogs may indeed be able to use some combination of natural survival instincts and their senses to tell that we are about to experience some type of natural disaster.
Whether or not you agree that dogs can sense earthquakes and other natural disasters, there is one important truth to be told. Dogs play a crucial role in many search and rescue missions in the aftermath of a natural disaster. They are also used to locate the bodies of loved ones so that they can be laid to rest. Without the keen senses of these wonderful and highly skilled dogs, the job would be much more difficult.
So hats off to both dogs and handlers who work tirelessly in these natural disasters to save who they can, and recover those that they can’t.
Remember, one of the best things you can do is to make proper disaster preparations before they occur.
How about you, do you think dogs can sense earthquakes and other disasters?