Step 7: Pets

As valuable members of our families, our pets’ needs must also be adequately anticipated.  During a critical event we often overlook the basic needs for our animals, eventually creating an unnecessary burden on what would otherwise be solid preparedness plan.  Unfortunately, these situations often require families to choose between their pets and their children.  As obvious as the decision is, having to release or abandon a family pet can serious impact the moral of the family unit, inevitably impacting your ability to thrive.

Pet specific preparations should be separate from the family’s preparations, for two reasons.

  1. Be sure to meet the needs for your family first. The amount of food and water storage set aside for your family will be calculated based on their dietary needs for a specific duration.  Your pets can quickly syphon valuable resources, shorting your family’s planned survival timeline.  The plan for your family is for your family only.
  2. Dry pet foods are much cheaper than the freeze dried supplies for humans.  They also have a very stable shelf life if they are stored properly.  Dry dog food, for example, can be sealed in a dry airtight container with a few oxygen absorbers for years.  Canned food has an incredibly long shelf life as well and can help balance your animal’s dietary needs.  Do not forget to plan for your pet’s drinking water usage.

Your animal’s needs must be considered during all relocation plans.  The aftermath of Katrina left 600,000 animals dead or abandoned.  Your pets will also need 72 hours of food and water during the relocation.  Furthermore, have a plan to restrain the animal throughout the journey and at the final location. Whether you use an animal carrier, portable pin, or spike and tether, you must be able to restrain your pets, especially in a new environment.  Because any animal can be restrained with a simple collar and tether, this option makes for a great light weight addition to any relocation bag.

Your pets can provide an invaluable contribution to your family’s overall moral; however, dogs can also provide an additional layer of family security.  Even if your dog has zero aggressive tendencies, the threat of a dog can be enough to deter a potential attacker.  Simply training your dog to bark on command can be enough to scare away strangers.