Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health



First Committee Member

Sharon Medcalf

Second Committee Member

Rachel Lookadoo

Third Committee Member

Aaron Yoder


A vital aspect of an animal health emergency in the United States is removing and disposing of diseased and healthy animals through depopulation. It is frequently required to prevent the spread of diseases that affect human health or economic stability. Production animals are eventually slaughtered, but this does not negate the human-animal bond felt between these animals and their caretakers. There is increasing recognition that participation in depopulation may be a traumatic event requiring care for the individuals involved, including livestock producers and veterinarians. Despite this, limited resources are available for these individuals when an animal health emergency occurs. This literature review describes the psychosocial problems encountered following a depopulation event and develops recommendations for further study and emergency preparedness plans. The common themes described include reduced levels of mental and physical well-being; common reasons cited for behavioral health impacts; decreased trust in authority/government; the value of help from family, friends, and those “inside” the event; family and community disruption; and frustration over lack of public understanding of animal agriculture. Themes were further analyzed between the country and disease outbreak, species involved, and if livestock producers showed differing impacts from veterinary responders. The method of depopulation and length of the response had a negative impact on participants. A discussion of the analysis, limitations, and recommendations are provided.