A few weeks back in one of our private Facebook group’s (The Bugout Network) weekly chats the topic of evacuating with pets came up. This topic is very close to me since, as of the time of this writing we have 2 cats and 2 dogs in our house, and the issue of what to do with them in case of an evacuation has been an important part of our bugout plan. Just like in our family, most people consider their pets as members of their family members. The thought of leaving one of your furry friends behind to face whatever is coming is devastating. It would be an impossible choice for some and that is you need to plan ahead.
Let's assume you are bugging out with dogs. These guys can certainly carry their own weight and walk along beside you. If you have a cat or several cats, you are probably going to have to carry the critters unless they are of the personality to follow you of their own accord. If you are headed to a shelter, you need to know that most will not allow you to bring your pets in. If you drove to the shelter, you could leave them in the car, but that is rarely a good option. If you are evacuating and heading for the hills or have a secondary location all planned out, you will be in good shape to take your pets.
These are some things you will need to do to help make the evacuation go easier when it is time.
Prepare a Pet Bug Out Bag
Your pets need their own bug out bags or a small section in your bag to hold their supplies. With medium to large dogs, you can attach saddle bag type things to their backs. This should only be done if you will be with your pet and can ensure they don't get snagged on a branch.
A pet bug out bag should contain a small bit of food and their own water rations. A collapsible bowl will be handy for pouring the water for the animal. A few treats would be a good idea as well. This may be necessary to call them in or settle their nerves. A blanket would also be useful if you will be sleeping outside.
Have Tags, Leashes and Collars
Before you ever evacuate, you should make sure your pets have collars with identification tags. Leashes for dogs can help you keep them reined in. Having a reflective collar on your pet will help you see them at night when you run a flashlight across the area. Avoid bells or several metal tags that will alert others to your pet's presence if you are trying to stay off the radar.
It is a good idea to keep vet records in the bug out bag as well. If you do happen to go into a shelter that does accommodate pets, you will need to prove they are up to date on vaccinations. If you decide to board them in another city while you travel back home, you will also need the proof. If you happen to lose your pets, having the documentation will allow you to prove ownership.
Your pet may already be chipped, which will be helpful if you the animals if found by someone with access to a chip scanner. In a true SHTF scenario, this isn't going to be likely. It doesn't hurt to have your pet chipped, just in case you are dealing with a situation like Hurricane Katrina where animals were rescued after some time, but there was no way of identifying them and returning them to their owners.
Pets are like humans and can get sick. If your pet has a diagnosed condition that requires medicine, pack along extra to keep them healthy. Things like flea and tick control medicines or collars will also come in handy, especially if you are going to be traveling through the woods or forested area. Medicines for their ears or any other conditions they may suffer from will be very helpful. A can of Blu-Kote is also a vital part of any pet first aid kit. If your pet suffers a laceration or other wound while you are evacuating, the spray is an antibacterial and healing ointment in one.
Don't forget to pack a supply of heartworm medication as well. Being out in the wilderness increases the risk of your dog being bit by an infected mosquito that can lead to heartworm.
Pet carriers are typically reserved for cats or small dogs that will struggle to keep up with the pace. If you are going to be in your vehicle, keeping the pet crated will ensure a panicked animal is not making the driving hazardous. Pets who are used to their carriers will feel more secure when they are tucked away inside. If you are bugging out in a hurry, you can grab a couple of pillow cases to carry small animals. This will also keep them from seeing what is happening around them. Pets can get just as scared as humans. You don't want them running off in terror.
Photos of Your Pets
Keep a print photo of each of your pets with their documentation. If you lose your pet, you will want to have a photo to show others as you ask around. The photo can also help prove ownership should someone try to claim your pet as their own. If you pet lands in a shelter and you have no other way to prove ownership, a photo with you and the pet together will be enough proof. A photo on your phone isn't going to do you much good if the battery is dead or the phone is broken.
Your pets will be your best friend, your early warning system, your source of comfort and your protector should you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to survive in the wild. They deserve to be cared for the best way possible. Do what you can to make sure you can fulfill their needs by planning ahead. Making decisions on the fly is not going to help you or your pets.
He doesn't consider himself an expert, but a facilitator and he works hard to provide a platform to those with valuable expertise to share their knowledge with as many people as possible.
He enjoys helping others prepare themselves for multiple dangerous scenarios, by coaching them on how develop their own customized survival & preparedness plans and develop their survival skills. He promotes the core concept of making preparedness and survival knowledge part of their daily lives.