Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pet Preps

A reader recently asked why I haven't written anything about preparedness for pets. Since I currently don't have any pets, it didn't dawn on me to write about them. Unfortunately, this often happens in disaster planning--just because the people who are doing the planning aren't in a specific situation, doesn't mean they shouldn't be aware that the situation could affect friends, family members, or the community at large. Nowhere was this more apparent than during Hurricane Katrina when rescuers told stranded victims to come with them and leave their pets behind. To many people with pets, it was like telling them to leave their children behind!

The simple way to prepare to help your pet during a disaster is just like if you were preparing your child, elderly relative, or special needs client for a disaster. Considering their specific needs and situation, here's what you can do:
  • Make them a BOB that meets their needs. Include in their bag food, water, a blanket, any needed medication, a toy, etc. You can skip the clothes...nothing makes me more incredulous than to see a poodle dressed up like a Barbie doll when many children in our world have one set of threadbare clothing to wear.

  • Have a way to transport them. A carrier is a good idea. I wish I would have got a photo of a guy who got on the city bus a few days ago carrying a small cage with a very large snake in it. Nobody said anything but I'm sure that would have cleared the entire bus in a couple of countries I've been to. It's important to have the items needed to contain and transport your animal on hand (ie: a small fish tank if your fish usually reside in a 100 gallon aquarium; a leash and muzzle for your dog, a halter for your horse, etc).

  • Have an evacuation plan. How will you be able to evacuate with your pet? Of course you can take a dog in your car but what will you do with your pot bellied pig, horse, or llama? Once you evacuate, where will you be able to stay? Do you have friends who can board your horse temporarily? Does the hotel you are going to allow pets? Have you checked with your county disaster planners to see if they have a plan for evacuees with pets?

Those are just the basics. I came across an animal preparedness web page from the AVMA which elaborates on these and many other things to consider when prepping with pets or large animals. Check it out here.


  1. Good topic that goes overlooked.
    The one thing I would really emphasize is pet food.
    Many people with pets don't really recognize it, like I didn't until I ran out, is that they tend to buy bag after bag of the same dry food for their pets.
    Trying to get them to eat a strange mix of food at a time that they are already under stress from watching you freak out without you noticing is going to cause major digestive problems for yer little darlins.
    I realized today that is important to store food for my pets that they are used to eating.
    A couple of large bags around is going to make a difference if you think to grab one in an emergency, either way it will save you a last minute trip to the nearest convenience store that is going to charge you three times as much, for a tiny bag, or can.

  2. In survival situations, are PETS a LIABILITY????

    Non survival situation: people in foreclosure are abandoning their pets.

    Katrina: would you risk your life to save your pet?????

    Economy: You hardly have enough money, How you gonna feed your pets????

    Etc. etc. etc.

  3. Anonymous: you ask if pets are a liability in survival situations? My rsponse to that is: how do you define 'liability' and 'survival situation'?
    In a rural area, pets are certainly no liability- not only can they fend somewhat for themselves (my hounds eat tree rats, gophers and rabbits with uncanny regularity), which will alleviate some of their feeding problems. Also, they are most excellent alarm systems, especially late at night and their barking will surely awaken even a deep sleeper (and no one will be a 'deep sleeper' in a SHTF scenario if they want to stay alive). Of course, the same barking will alert intruders, but maybe also to the fact that lead may soon be flying their way, if not a mouthful of teeth. Too, a dog's senses don't sleep the way ours do, due to the generations we have of 'civilizing' ourselves.
    People in foreclosure leaving their pets- most of those people obviously aren't capable of caring for themselves or family- so shouldn't have had pets to begin with- unless they use them as emergency food supplies, which is highly likely. I think that also covers the money question- though if you own a pet, you'd be surprised how cheaply they can live compared to yourself. That is, excluding Vet bills- but those are also barterable during a SHTF event.
    As to risking my life to save my pet- yes, and I am not alone in that nor in being one whose life has been saved by pets. A dog is the most loyal companion we could ever have, more so even than people around us. Perhaps another way to ask that question is, "Would you risk your life for your girl friend? (or boy friend?) Many would not risk their lives to save their spousal units, so asking such a question is rediculous in the least. The number of child abuse and spouse abuse cases in this country alone will answer that.