According to the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 60% of US households have pets. It is only in recent years that Emergency Preparedness planners have begun to consider pet ownership. During recent disasters, planners came to realize that nearly 20% of those who failed to evacuate did so because they stayed to care for pets. Nearly all of those who return during an evacuation did so for their pets. These numbers can be translated for preppers and survivalists and highlight the need to prepare for your pets as well as your family. Before you dismiss this article and say that you are already at your BOL, consider what would happen in case of an approaching wildfire or an overwhelming force.
There are important things you need to do to prepare yourself and your pets for an emergency and possible bug out event.
1) Food: have your pet's normal food stored in a vermin-proof container. Metal trash cans work well for this purpose. Dog and cat food can be kept in the bag it comes in. Protect the food from heat if possible. Consider alternative food for your pets if you run out of commercial food. Dogs do well on rice, eggs, wild game. Cats can eat mice. Parrots can eat rice and most vegetables, and so on. Pet food spoils and needs to be rotated frequently.
2) Containment: have a way to contain your pet. You should have extra leashes, collars, harnesses. Crate training is very important in case you have to bug out. You should have a crate for each pet you plan to take with you, including cats, rabbits, parrots, etc. Get your pet used to staying in their crate and practice monthly. The importance of having a way to contain your pet can not be emphasized enough. If you are forced to bug out, you will be stressed enough without having to introduce Fluffy to his new crate. You do not want a panicking animal jumping around the inside of your vehicle while you are trying to drive. You do not want your pet to escape if you have to roll down the window or open the door.
3) Documentation: keep all vaccination paperwork current. Keep an identification tag on each pet's collar and keep the collar on the pet. Parrots can have leg bands with identifying information. You should get a second identification tag for each pet and attach it to the door of their crate. This keeps people from opening the crate door to identify the pet and prevents escapes. Have a photo of each pet. Seal the photo and the vaccination records in a waterproof ziploc bag. Keep your documentation with your crates. Keep with you at all times if you have to bug out.
4) Network: if you have to bug out, have a network of other pet owners that you can depend on to house you and your pet if necessary. If you are stranded away from home during a SHTF event, have a pet friendly neighbor who can feed and water your pet until you get home. If you bug out, plan for places along the way for your pet to relieve himself.
5) Waste: It is also necessary to consider sanitary ways to dispose of animal waste. This is a two fold problem. If you do not dispose of the waste correctly, it can contaminate your water sources. Additionally, if people see you have pet waste it means your pets are eating and you have supplies.It is important to recognize that if things get really bad, your pet will be looked upon as some else's meal. Keep your pets inside or with you at all times.
As preppers and survivalists, we know that having a plan means staying alive. The same is true for our pets.