Lessons From Venezuela: What Happens To Your Pets After An Economic Collapse

“We have tried to keep our cat…Cat food is around 3$ per kilogram, if you can find it. The real hard part is to get that 3$ in Venezuela, or even…”

by J.G. Martinez via The Organic Prepper

Mankind has been very close to our pets for a reason. They are useful for us, and they had a role in our life when we became homesteaders, and the transition from nomadic, errant foragers to house dwellers occurred. They would thrive from pests like rodents, snakes looking for insects and all kind of living beings that would come to human settlements looking to feed on crops, stored food, and alike. There is a very strong bond, a symbiotic relationship, established by Mother Nature, much earlier than any human would raise the head to look far to the horizon.

This said, I would like to talk a little about how people are dealing with the pets, and what can we do as preppers, to take them with us. Most of this is common sense, but maybe you will find useful a couple of ideas.

Caring for pets when the SHTF poses unique challenges.

Now, I want to mention a fellow reader that made an important contribution. He felt the need to write about our pets. The consequences in the poor things that after mom and dad ran away (not everyone is like me or you, that consider our cats and dogs and other pets part of the family) and can’t feed by themselves, they will starve until learning to procure food for themselves, perhaps grouping themselves and working together…if they survive to the attacks of larger packs, more violent and equally ravenous. This is a sad picture, indeed. It breaks my heart to see in Twitter and FB lots of pets being hosted temporally in the homes of people who can’t have them, asking for help to relocate them with someone who wants them.

We have tried to keep our cat (older one got lost and we are still crying for her loss) and old female dog healthy and well fed, even if that means to suffer necessities here. Cat food is around 3$/kilogram if you can find it. The real hard part is to get that 3$ in Venezuela, or even here. Anyway, with the support via Paypal we have received occasionally (bless you, people), we have been able to cope at least that shallow waters and I don´t have words to give thanks to God first, and to you.

A guy I know cooks, and he has been able with a little research to bake some special croquettes for his cat, just with lentils, a little ground meat and canned sardines. And it must be much tastier than regular food (composed with a high grade of vegetal products too) because he told me that his cat loves it. The disadvantage, it has to be previously warmed and cooked before feeding, but if that´s the alternative, at least the cost is 20% of the commercial cat food.

Here are some possible scenarios with pets after a collapse.

The stronger, smarter (or less brave) animals will survive, as usual, whatever by brutal force or running to live and be able to run another day.

There will be a huge increase in the number of feral pets. Good news is, once an animal has been part of a human family is very likely to become a part of a family again. Dogs and cats have memory. And have feelings, too. To be honest, leaving out and let my home behind was one of the most painful, difficult, and still are as hard as the first weeks sometimes. Used to sleep in a queen-size bed, with our spongy, furry lovely two cats and a wife (not so spongy and furry but lovely too), and wake up to a warm, sunny tropical climate, and suddenly I was sleeping in an improvised mattress in a wooden floor in Ecuador, freezing my sorry backside.

Missing family love is one thing. But leaving our furry family behind…that is something else. Should we have to evacuate in a truck, leaving them was never in our minds: that was OUT of the question. That’s why we kept their food in a special container, ready to be loaded in our SUV, next to our drinkable water containers. Every cat has a kennel. Old granny was too big so she would sit in the floor between the kids (aided by the older kid because she can’t jump on it) in a blanket, or in the 3rd row of seats, provided we could load most of our stuff in the roof rack. The younger kid was addressed to take care of his cat, getting stuck inside her kennel, with an old t-shirt for more comfort, and wife would look for her cat too. I would load the food container. Everything in the plan had a place in the truck, and every task a responsible person. Planning is indispensable as you already know, but to optimize time everyone must attend his or her labor. We made a drill once, and it was quite easy…except for the older cat, who happened to arrive like a lightning once I opened the food container and made some noise with the plastic food bag, just to be shoved into her kennel and loaded in the SUV (her angry face was a poem and we still laugh of this, although she is no longer with us). By doing this drill we learned something paramount.

Every pet must be trained to come running when you call it.

Oh, and kids too.

This is something that can’t be avoided. A delay occasioned by a pet that is not at home in the time of the evacuation could have serious consequences for the entire family. We all know that. So have a special signal for them, and train them to come running to the noise of this signal. Avoid ultrasonic whistles for dogs. Have been told that could damage their fine sense of hearing, and that can affect cats too. If your pets are already aged, chances are that they won’t be hanging around too far away from home. If they need some special medication that needs cooling, make sure that this is in an identified small plastic container, just like grandma’s or grandpa’s meds. In the hurry of a 10 min evacuation, missing this is not an option, therefore it should have its own place in the fridge. Just grab it, shove it in a thermal duffel bag, and load the bag. This is common sense, though.

I have trained my kid to stay in place and answer with a special call to my special whistle. The reason is that if we are separated in some large building like a mall or supermarket and something like an earthquake happens to occur, with the corresponding blackout, I can reach to him much faster than him trying to locate at me and running with the possibility of being harmed. Running scared in the darkness is something that could cause a lot of damage. So I have patiently taught to him how to have self-control and hit the floor if something like a shot is heard. Yes, basic war-like training can be useful in a city with over 8 million people these days.

OK, enough with kids training. Let’s back to the pets.

Try to find a way to include your pets in your evacuation plan.

All of us who grew in more or less rural communities know that if you have chickens, you need a couple of cats. We used to have them because my grampa loved those furry things, and had a huge mice problem, solved only via the extensive support of our SWAT anti-mouse team. These, unlike SWAT teams, were mainly used like cat-scent walking bags to scare mice. I can count with my fingers the times I saw them hunt a mouse dumb enough to jump in front of them. They preferred to hang around, sleeping in good, shadowy, fresh, vented places than to earn their meal. Grampa loved them more than the Simpson’s crazy lady and overfeeding his pack was natural for him. My dad once bought me a toy bow and plastic arrows, and just one severe look from my grampa was enough to avoid (for life) playing “tiger” hunter with the cats.

By including them in your evacuation plan, I can tell you, peace of mind is guaranteed. Forget about the home and all the stuff that couldn’t be hauled. All the valuable intangibles are in your BOV(s), and hopefully some tangibles as well. The love your furry beloved pets give you, and the comfort you will feel once locked and safe in your BOL has no price. Trust me, because we left ours with someone who loves them too, and we are much happier this way.

Consider picking up some items that will keep your pets safer.

From my own experience, I would strongly suggest some means of tracking your pet. A GPS positioning collar, for instance, or a strobe collar. Maybe if it’s far enough to hear your special calling, or deeply asleep to hear, or even harmed, you could find it much faster under evac situation. For cats, we have found that a spoon in an empty can will suddenly materialize them in the kitchen, just like Harry Potter. Oh and once we found a “guest” for lunch with this technique, too. He seemed to like the food because was polite enough to allow himself a few petting and left proudly.

I will strongly suggest that given you’re getting your pets out of the environment they’re used to, please use some kind of harness. I know how millennial this can sound, but please do it. Cats are nervous animals and most dogs too. They can be subject to a lot of stress, and their fast movements can get them into dangerous situations, something very easy in regular situations, and much faster under uncommon events and that can lead to a hazard. Just tape with double-sided tape a zip bag with their harness and belt inside to the roof of the kennel. In that place, it won´t be an obstacle for air circulation inside the kennel, and it is usually a sturdy place because the handle is there. You will have handy an additional bag for waste. I would add a pouch inside the zip bag with some wet towels too just in case some cleaning has to be done, and some special tranquilizers, like sleeping pills so the poor pets can relax and avoid the stress of a road trip that may be agitated. Should you need to travel in silence, this will be much better even for yourself, and we must avoid driving with a poor, scared, meowing or barking pet next to us. Every member of the family shall take care of one or two of the pets, except the driver. That will be useful to divert the attention and avoid being too stressed in an unnatural, hazardous situation.

I never had birds, hamsters, nor fishes…so I can´t provide any advice about bugging out with these pets. Despite I like fish (especially fried, with lots of fries and garlic mayonnaise) I would rather leave that to you specialists.

I hope you have enjoyed your reading! See you next week.

What do you think?

Do you have a plan for your pets in case you have to evacuate or if SHTF? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. paypal.me/JoseM151