SHTF Dogs – Liability or Asset?

The popularity of keeping pets has increased dramatically over the past several years, and – in particular – how much people are willing to spend on their pets. When I was a child, if your pooch obtained some serious illness it was put to sleep (or dealt with in other ways). Nowadays people seem willing to take a second mortgage out on their house to preserve their pet’s life. Veterinarians make a boat load of cash eager to diagnose and treat everything under the sun with all the latest scientific, veterinary gadgets.

These owner-to-pet relationships could change dramatically post-SHTF, however. Whether your dog becomes an asset or a liability depends largely on how events unfold.

Dogs would be a survival asset immediately after a SHTF situation, particularly larger, well-trained dogs. They intimidate people you don’t want lingering around, they provide an early warning system for intruders near your home, and they provide much needed companionship and love when the world would otherwise look dark and grim.

Any TEOTWAWKI survival situation will likely prolonged, however. During times like these, dogs will become more of a liability. They’ll be one more mouth to feed. You may be happy tossing Fido scraps off the dinner plate now, but after SHTF there will be no such thing as food scraps. The dog food you stored (assuming you even stored some) won’t last long, and – depending on the situation and your preparedness levels – you may be looking at the food thinking to yourself, “I could eat that.” If it’s you or your family’s survival versus Fido’s . . .

Small dogs would have the advantage here as they provide that early warning system but require less food.  You’d ultimately face the same problem, though – maintaining your pet.

During times of crisis, history would tell us that people often just set their pets free and the dogs become feral. Packs of roaming, feral, hungry dogs then become a threat.

Large dogs may intimidate some people, but the Golden Horde hell bent on raiding your home for their own survival will just pop your pooch with a .22lr straight to the dome and walk right by.

True story: one very late night while in college, Ranger Man and some friends were exploring the woods behind campus (it was a rural campus). We were walking old trails with headlamps when we came into a small field. Then we heard something coming – quickly. There were probably 3-4 dogs of good size standing just at the edge of our headlamps’ range barking and growling at us. What the hell these dogs were doing in the woods late at night was beyond on us, but it created a very uncomfortable situation. Fortunately, we were carrying miscellaneous gear that included a canister of white gas, dirty old socks, a hatchet and knives. (It’s a long story that involves crazy college madness . . . and intoxicants.) It took us about 30 seconds to wrap white gas soaked socks around a walking staff and light it afire, the dogs growling at us the whole time. The light, heat and flame was enough to push the vicious pooches back long enough for us to get back on trail and head in the direction of campus, but it was a lesson learned.

If you’ve got pets, make post-SHTF plans for them now. If they become feral, they may come back to haunt you.

– Ranger Man

9 comments… add one
  • KC January 13, 2008, 5:43 am

    Ranger Man,

    The question on my mind is not about my dog, but everyone else’s dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, assorted rodents and in warm-weather regions, all sorts of wonderful reptiles. While I think my dog is the bees knees, and she’s a great pest control agent (the four legged, not two legged kind) I know that if push comes to shove, then what will be done, will be done. For anyone to ‘free’ thier pets after a disaster is, pardon the pun, dog-gone irresponsible and its the owners not the pets who should pay the price for their lack of vision/preparation. All in all though I think anyone who’s even half-way serious about preparations will provide for their dog(s) now while times are relatively good and dog chow is cheap, Even if one was to run out of the kibble could with some imagination and forward thinking could devise a subsititute diet, utilizing whole grains, garden fresh produce and some either natural meat juices or builon flavoring for their ‘best friend.’ Like Powers Boothe’s character Andy says in Red Dawn: “You know in Denver, people would kill for a mouthfull of what you just had?”


  • Chris January 13, 2008, 1:27 pm

    I think the watchdog angle is great. I feel much more secure knowing that mine are watching out for me while I sleep or work. It just takes a little planning on your part to provide for the dogs. Food and basic animal health care. They take care of mice and keep other animals away.

    Now the whole feral dog thing is going to happen anyway. It already is, people losing their homes already are abandoning their animals.

  • tmm January 13, 2008, 3:14 pm

    Interesting side note on “lapdogs” (those small ones that need help reaching the couch).. years ago it was not uncommon to see people with them at meetings, church and other assorted gatherings… the purpose was that heating in large buildings was usually inadequate in the winter, so the dogs were hand warmers… so this could be thought of as another use for your trusted dog, to help you stay warm when it is cold!

  • ryan January 13, 2008, 10:28 pm

    Dogs are definintelty a deturent to unarmed assailants. When it comes to armed folks the biggest advantage dogs have is that they will alert you. Unless you are in a large organized group (or have a great neighborhood watch) sooner or later you will need to sleep. A dog waking you up when somebody is screwing around outside is not as great as armed people front and back but it is a heck of alot more warning then hearing the door come off of the hinges. For this smaller or mid sized dogs would work just fine.

    For alot of people a dog is a member of the family and should be prepared for accordingly.

  • Been around January 14, 2008, 12:32 am

    The reason those black tounged Chows are called Chows is they were raised in China for ….Chow.Probably the reason they do not relate to people very well.

  • Sput January 14, 2008, 7:38 pm

    Ranger — You forget that dog is a food source for many peoples — Caan-cho is (sp.?) is Viet for dog stew — as far as fido as an auxillary heat source, think Three Dog night, named for just that–

  • Ponce January 16, 2008, 9:19 pm

    Hehehehheeh Sput, in Korea my girld took me out for dinner and after I finished she told me that it was “home rice” with dog meat…….I ordered another serving hahahahahahah.

    I have two cats who thinks they are dogs, they alert me to anyone near by by making a weird growling purring sound.


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