I can’t imagine my life without my dogs, one of which is Miss Lucy above. In that photo, I think she was waiting not-very-patiently for me to put the laptop down.
Also, I have a cat, and he’s the ultimate “Chad Cat” of all Chad-Cats. He stages items along the very edge of the kitchen island, so that he can ambush the dogs from above with his dead-fall traps. He’s definitely a tactical war-kitty, for sure. He dominates the high ground (maintaining an OP from the cupboard above the fridge) and spends his days patrolling the house stealthily, setting ambushes for everyone, human or dog, he doesn’t care and he gives no quarter.
So, naturally, when it comes to preparedness, they are 100 percent included in my preparedness plans. Pets are family. I’m angered and saddened when I hear stories of people who evacuated without their pets and are now looking for them. This was preventable.
Before we begin, as we alway do, let’s check the Ultimate Tactical Handbook for guidance on preparedness for pets. What? You don’t think it’s in there? Oh, ye of little faith…Have I not taught you? Everything you need to know is.
There it is. You care for animals, and the “kindest act of the wicked” of letting the pet fend for itself is cruel.
This very point is our first preparedness tip for pets. You do NOT just let them out of the house and hope for the best. Would you do that for your toddler? Teenager? They will be stressed out and don’t understand the danger or why you left. You accepted responsibility for them, act like it.
You hear all the time about “just let the cats out; they’ll fend for themselves”. That’s FALSE. It’s based on the belief that cats don’t really need people. Whoever said that has never met Lynx, my cat. If he can’t see his people (and his dogs, even though he denies it), he is stressed out and can’t deal. While cats CAN fend for themselves, they’ll be stressed and don’t exactly watch the news to be aware of danger.
Another negative side effect of letting pets out is that dogs will then form packs and become feral, which is dangerous to everyone’s long-term survival. Dogs that become feral do not then go back to being tame.
Dogs and cats have been man’s companions for millenia, and they didn’t have modern conveniences like prepared dog and cat food, until relatively recently. You can do this in an austere environment, without modern conveniences.
Whenever you make evacuation plans, include the animals. For cats, a carrier is needed. For dogs, some type of harness and leash with a long lead is needed. All animals, in an emergency, need some type of tag with your name and contact information on it. I know, in a full WROL (Without Rule of Law) situation, they won’t be able to reach you, but it will establish ownership.
Another item you need in your important papers is a photo of you with each pet you have. This will help establish ownership, in case you get separated and there is ever any dispute as to ownership. A PRINTED photo, not on your phone. Also include any pet immunization records and registration documents, if you bent the knee to the state and registered them.
While animals will drink from ground water, get a collapsible bowl and you can share the water that you gather and purify with them. The collapsible bowls above have a carabiner so that you can attach it to your pack, or the dogs harness, to dry.
Pack and store about a weeks worth of pet food, plus a few cans if they eat wet food, in a waterproof and airtight package, and remember to rotate it. My program is to put enough food for one day in a ziplock bag, and those bags got into a larger bag, just for the pets, along with the collapsible water bowls. Side Note: Dogs and cats don’t care if the food is on the ground, on the floor, or in a bowl. Use the bowls only for water to keep them clean. Also, in a true emergency, cans or pouches of tuna/salmon make good substitutes for pet food.
Another vital item you need is a pet first aid kit, built for and dedicated to pets. They are widely available and relatively low cost. They contain supplies for treating pet-specific injuries. Consider taking a pet-specific first aid and CPR class. Yes, pet CPR classes exist, I’ve taken one. The Red Cross and several other agencies offer them, including online courses.
For weather and other short-term emergencies, you should scout now for hotels outside your area that would allow you to bring your pets. Some sites recommend boarding your pets while you evacuate, but if conditions require an evacuation, your pets should evacuate with you. If you just can’t find any hotels or friends that will take in you and your pets, camping is always an option.
In a full-WROL situation, dogs are a SOLID security asset. Humans and dogs paired together thousands of years ago in a mutually beneficial agreement: the dogs will help hunt, herd, and provide security in exchange for humans sharing their food. Keep dogs for security. It’s important though, while tempted not to, keep the dogs on a leash. You don’t want them running off when startled.
Cats should be kept in a carrier until you get to either a temporary or permanent location. They don’t work well with leashes and run when startled.
You also have to consider pet sanitation as well. Just as I always talk about not allowing any humans to eliminate bodily waste inside or near your campsite, don’t let pets do it either. Walk them away from the campsite. While it’s equally important for health reasons, with dogs, it’s even more important from a security standpoint, because the smell of dog urine is very strong TO DOGS and it ALWAYS attracts MORE DOGS. You don’t need that. For cats, some type of portable litter arrangement is needed.
A good way to do this is that after you’ve set up the camp, take a quick patrol about 50 meters out from your campsite with the dog or dogs, and make a quick circle at that distance.
I hope these few ideas help. I know, I didn’t discuss parakeets, or lizards, or whatever, because I really don’t know how you’d pull that off. If that’s what you have, most of these guidelines will still work, to some extent.
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