I know everyone loves their pets. I myself have two cats that I adore like children. One of which I’ve had since he was born, eight years ago. I couldn’t imagine how devastating it would be to have to abandon them. People have the ability to develop deep personal bonds with their animals. This makes it all the harder when it comes time to decide what is essential to take with you when you have to “bug out”, as they say.
However, as hard as it may be, the fact remains that you have to leave your pets behind. They will be nothing but a burden, especially in a zombie apocalypse. Small cage animals like hamsters and lizards obviously aren’t going to be practical to take along. They will be not only an extra thing to carry, they will also be an extra mouth to feed. Animals like these are bred to be taken care of by humans. However, in a zombie apocalypse, you will be to busy taking care of yourself. You will spend nearly all your time looking for food and water and when you find it, the last thing you’ll want to do is share it with a little dependent animal. The only thing having these, or any, animals around will be good for, is when you are desperate and starving. Then, if they are still alive, you have a nice little meal on your hands. Supposing you can bring yourself to eat your own pet.
Pets like cats, and small dogs that might as well be cats, might tend to try and follow you if you leave on foot. This won’t matter if you are in a city because they will not be making any more noise than the chaos around you will be producing. Also, they will only follow you until they get hungry. With animals like this, they may try for a while to beg for food, but will eventually take it upon themselves to go find something to eat. Once they go off on their own, let them go and move on. If your in the country or any other relatively quiet place, you will need to get away from cats and small dogs right away. If they follow you begging for food and attention, you’ll simply have a small continuous source of noise that will attract everything in the area. In this case, you have to find a way to ditch them. The best way to do this is to keep them in the house when you leave. Find a window or something that you can leave slightly open. Somewhere they won’t go straight for to follow you out, but that they can find when they get desperate to get out and find food. If you have a bag of food for them, you can rip it open and leave it on the floor. You can also leave a faucet running slightly for them but, none the less, you have to make sure they sat put and don’t follow you.
Obviously the pets that will be the hardest for their owners to part with will be large dogs. Owners of these dogs will be determined, in most cases, to keep their dogs with them and use them to help in survival. They will convince themselves that the dog will help with hunting, detecting zombies and other undesirable guests, and be a good companion. The reality is quite the opposite. Most normal dogs won’t be much use as hunters. They can find and kill for food if they are desperate, but it will not be likely that a normal dog will be able to chase down and bring you back a rabbit or squirrel. If they are not trained to do this, they will be of no use hunting. As far as being a good companion goes, that may be true. However, you come back to the issue of taking care of an animal and having another mouth to feed and another life to worry about. As I said before, if a dog is desperate, it will find it’s own food. This isn’t a house dogs first instinct though. They will rely firstly on the owner to provide for them and resort to begging and whining before they finally decide to give up and take finding food upon themselves. This will present a series of problems for the owner. First, of course, the noise of a begging and whining dog will be a huge danger. The noise factor of having a dog around is probably the biggest problem. Unless the dog is highly trained, it will be unpredictable. If it’s not whining for food, it may get excited about something and bark. I don’t need to explain that barking echoes and can be heard from far distances. Anyone who has dogs or neighbors with dogs knows this. It’s loud and will be like an alarm announcing your position to anyone, or anything, that is listening.
Now I’d like to take a second to point out that if you are the owner of a very well trained dog, one that’s been trained for hunting, police assistance, or assisting a disabled owner, these problems may be less. These dogs are generally trained to be resourceful, incredibly obedient, and quiet unless promoted. If you have one of these dogs, you can decide for yourself whether the animal would be enough help to make them worth keeping around. When I talk about dogs in this article, I am primarily referring to normal house dogs. Ones that have little if any training and are dependent on their owners.
Getting back to whether or not a dog will make a good companion, another point to remember is the love you feel for the animal. A dog can be a best friend and as good as it will be to have a friend around, it will be just as devastating when they eventually do get killed. The emotional stress of worrying about your own life will be enough. You will only be adding stress by worrying about the safety of an animal. It will be better to leave the dog behind knowing it has a chance on it’s own, than to deal with the sadness of watching your dog get killed trying to protect you, which it will likely not be able to do anyway.
The most relevant misguided belief is that a dog will be able to detect and warn you of approaching zombies and undesirables. By undesirables I mean thieves, marauders, bandits, and that sort. While it might be true that a dog can give warning of these dangers, the warning will likely be little help. A dogs main form of alerting it’s owners of danger is to bark. Well, as soon as the dog barks to let you know someone’s coming, it’s also then confirmed to the coming danger that there is, in fact, a person somewhere close. Probably with supplies. Then all the zombies or marauders have to do is to follow the barking right to your position. You may have time to leave or prepare, but the threat is still coming right to you so long as the dog keeps barking at them.
It’s also questionable as to whether or not zombies will be attracted to the smell of dogs. It is my assumption that they will be attracted to the smell of anything living and moving. Dogs have a distinctly stronger scent than humans and zombies will be able to smell them from much further away. You could end up with an entire herd of zombies closing in on the smell of your dog. Then of course the dog barks, and the zombies follow the noise to your specific point.
Overall, unless you have an exceptionally trained animal, the benefits of having the animal around will always be less than the dangers. Pets are great to have in normal life, not in an apocalypse. Especially a zombie apocalypse. When it comes time to hit the road, say your goodbyes and leave them behind. Chances are, they will be better off without you as well.