Post-world pet care
The ASPCA estimates 62% of American households have companion animals – dogs, cats, birds, etc. While many of us are becoming more and more prepared to care for ourselves following an apocalyptic event most of us probably have not considered our options for also caring for a companion animal. Given the importance of companion animals to our daily lives it is important to also have a plan in place for your pet should SHTF to help save you both time and grief.
The first thing to acknowledge is it may not be possible for you to keep your pet post-apocalypse. It’s a sad reality all pet owners who do not live on a farm or in a prepared survivalist community must face. For instance, can you imagine how hard it would be to bug out with a cat? Or carrying a fish bowl? I can’t. It simply wouldn’t work. Owners of severely independent pets should try to consider, in advance, the prospect of setting their animal free post-world. Consider factors such as:
- The ease of bring the animal with you – wherever you’re headed
- The ease of caring for the animal in the wild (cleaning, feeding, etc)
- The amount of distraction caused by the animal’s presence
- Could you handle it if your pet got fleas/worms/etc
We know considering setting you companion animal free post-world is emotional but do consider how this may benefit both the animal and you. For example, cats, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and birds are all fairly self-sufficient and will more likely enhance the ecosystem – reproducing and growing populations for hunting – than simply die out. They know how to take care of themselves and many will thrive post-world.
A practical survivor will also need to consider where the animal will fit in to the post-world lifestyle. While most pets today are kept simply for the emotional enjoyment of animal companionship we must consider that the animal’s position will change as our needs change. Our pets will become “working” animals – serving many non-emotional purposes as well. Those with big fuzzy dogs, for example, may have the added advantage of sharing their warmth, having increased protection from potential predators, and help with finding potential food sources. Similarly, a loyal house-cat may help to control pest populations and even bring in a kill to share on occasion. Thinking outside the box, even a small dog may have it’s uses as survivors try to rebuild. A small dog, similar to a cat, is able to hunt small game and control rodents but also may help to alert you of potential predators.
Along the same lines, it’s important to recognize the post-world will represent a shift in our overall cultural paradigm. At some point, all survivors will, in some fashion, have to revert to a combination hunter-gatherer/subsistance farming lifestyle. Animals of all kinds are necessary to such a lifestyle and we recommend being aware of opportunities to grow your “herd” by acquiring dogs, cats, chickens, goats, etc as you move through the post-world. A great start to building such a lifestyle is bringing your current companion animal along for the ride. If you chose to go this route though, realize you will need to find means to feed, house, clean, and harvest products from many, if not all, of the animals you collect.
So, while there are many reasons both to and not to hold on to your companion animals in the post-world it’s important you decide what your plan will be now so you aren’t asking yourself these difficult questions when you should really be getting out of dodge. To help you visualize this process, my own post-apocalypse animal care plan is below.
I live in a five-pet household with three dogs and two cats. While I love my cats, I can’t image forcing either to go with me anywhere. They both still have their claws so, I would plan to set them free and hope they chose to follow me on my journey while fully understanding they either may not be able to or may not chose to. I would however endeavor to keep all three dogs. My dogs are 60lbs, 40lbs, and 5lbs (that’s not a typo). I have a little doggy front pack I plan to wear to hold my small dog (who I admit is my favorite and is also quite the little terror) as I bug out. I’ve tried it out and it’s relatively comfortable with my main pack so no concerns there. The other two dogs would move with me on leashes. A spaniel and a retriever – both are extremely useful and loyal breeds and will likely be invaluable in a survival situation.
The plan is simple, but it’s there and it’s practical (relatively – I admit my small dog will kind of be a luxury). I definitely expect it will help me, an animal lover, save time if I have to bug out post-apocalypse. After that – all that’s left is surviving.