A Massey University survey seeks to find out how well prepared owners of pets and farm animals are in a natural disaster.
A senior lecturer at the Massey University schoool of veterinary science said evidence gathered in the wake of large overseas disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005, helped prompt the student research project.
Naomi Cogger said most people loved their animals and wanted to look after them, and history showed they were also willing to risk their own safety for them.
"We also know from things like Hurricane Katrina that about 40 percent of the people who didn't leave cited the fact they stayed for their pets."
Dr Cogger said they wanted a better understanding of how New Zealanders were ready to handle a natural disaster in relation to their pets.
The information would be able to guide Civil Defence and other agencies in emergency response.
"It is a requirement that people look after their own pets. Some disaster relief centres take pets, others don't.
"People really need to think about where they would take their pets if they needed to evacuate in an emergency."
She said about 600 responses had come in from horse owners, and more than 500 to the pet survey.
The survey is open for another month.