When thinking about preparedness, you think food, structure, transportation, and protection. I bet you don’t think of pets. I would like you to do just that today!
Here’s my rule for pets for a prepper: If it can’t protect the food, house, people OR can be food itself there is no reason to have it.
Protection for the Family
I have read several articles about using dogs to help defend the homestead. Absolutely! Dogs come in all sizes and have all sorts of different specialties. Terriers are great at dealing with little rodent-like creatures, such as gophers, rats, or moles. Shepherd dogs can help with livestock rounding up and protecting, and might even help in herding kids! The down size is the larger the dog the more they eat and the shorter their life span. Think long and hard about exactly why and what type of dog would help in your prepping.
“Sure enough, in the morning a mouse lay dead by the bedroom wall where Pa had thrown it. And Pa appeared at breakfast with an almost bare spot on the back of his head, where the mouse had shorn his hair away.” -From Little House of the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The family had no cat and during the night a mouse had chewed hair right off Pa’s head! Pests can move into your food storage and take over. Thankfully, nowadays we have great things like mylar bags, and plastic buckets, although those do need to be guarded when it comes to rodents. I guarantee you don’t want mice looking for food in your home. Even if they find nothing, they leave behind bacteria and feces. To stay a healthy prepper you need a good mouser!
My suburban neighbors consider rabbits cute, fuzzy pets. I consider them hasenpfeffer that will be a continuous source of meat if needed. I can even easily move the huts into my garage to prevent theft. Hubby wants a Giant Flemish Rabbit but he hasn’t talked me into that yet, though that is a nice chunk of meat!
Indoor fish are actually very soothing to have. The biggest problem I see with them in a long term no electricity problem would be no aeration of the water, or heating of the water if you have tropical fish. Perhaps an outdoor Koi pond would be a better choice if you want fish but there would problems with them surviving inside. I can see a reason for owning Koi because they are great algae cleaners and don’t eat very much fish food. You could just grind up a handful of corn and toss it to them.
I had a friend put a couple of Koi in a horse trough that hadn’t been used for awhile and had water with lots of algae. She ran a hose in it for a bit to keep the water aerated and the Koi filled their bellies. Problem solved.
This is my no-no pet. If you have indoor birds you are more likely to have asthma attacks and have worse bronchitis. The dander on birds is very irritating to the lungs. (Dear in-laws, sorry but your bird house is a lung danger zone!) If SHTF then you can’t afford an asthma attack or a nasty bout of bronchitis!
Call me girlie, better yet, practical! There is no reason to have an animal in the house that I would have to call an exterminator for if my kids hadn’t already named it! No.
Reptiles are still on my no-no list. My son loved his Green Anole and I admit it was cool to see him eat crickets. My problem is reptiles can carry bacteria. You can’t use them to help the homestead unless you let them go to kill insects. The big problem with that is you then have no control over their population growth, and again, you are back to having a pest control problem.
Pets have a definite, needed place in your prepping. Think it through, and think long term. Pets live for years. You will also need to think through whether or not you are going to neuter/spay your dog or cat.
One last thought is pets are trade-able. They are a commodity. You can trade a breeding pair of rabbits for work boots. There is worth in having something in hand and everyone understands it’s worth.
Remember the Rule: If it can’t protect the food, house, people OR be food itself there is no reason to have it.