One need only look down the right-hand sidebar of this very blog to see that I am a big animal supporter. My family even adopted a dog and a cat through the ASPCA (kind of like those programs for adopting kids in Ethiopia where you get a picture of the kid you sponsored, blah blah blah) and plan to continue with that program every year for the foreseeable future. In my opinion, the ASPCA is a fine organization that does God's work when it come to animals without stepping over into crazy town the way PETA often does.
Now, does being an animal supporter mean I'm a vegetarian? No. And it truly doesn't matter to me if you think that makes me a hypocrite or not. Simply put: some animals are meant to be companions while others are meant to be groceries. I will say, however, that I despise anyone who would cause an animal pain needlessly (even one that is going to eventually end up on my plate). I support only humane methods of slaughter and I absolutely refuse to eat things like veal, because the calves are mistreated in my opinion.
Anyway, the purpose of this article is to discuss the role of your household pets in a survival or disaster scenario. First, I must admonish you, if you are preparing but your preps do not take your pet's needs into consideration, then you probably shouldn't have a pet. I say this because, if you are one of those folks who plans to just dump their animal(s) when times get tough, then you are a part of the problem, not the solution.
Like so many other instances, this is a time when Hurricane Katrina can serve as a case study for what happens to animals that are simply abandoned. My brood is probably in the minority, but we feel that our animals are members of our family, and so we could never just put them out to wander and wonder what they did wrong and why we don't love them anymore. Even putting the emotional side of the argument aside for a moment, however, people have this image in their minds that an animal will always be able to make it on their own, but this is not always the case. In short, understand that this is certain: if you simply abandon your pet, you are either condemning it to a certain and often painful death or you are creating a future predator in the event that your dog survives and goes feral as part of a pack.
So, with that said, please plan for your animal's well being when thinking about emergency preparedness. Pet food is really pretty cheap. Store it in galvanized metal trash cans to keep the rats out and dust it with some food grade diatomaceous earth to keep the insects under control. Rotate your supply, so it is always fresh. In a true TEOTWAWKI survival scenario, dogs can survive on the waste products from hunting and butchering wild game after the commercial dog food is long since gone.
In return, you get a worthy and loyal companion that provides you with security far and away more reliable than any modern electronic detection system. Obviously, one could fill a whole additional post with the discussion of which breed is best, as different breeds each have their own strengths, weaknesses and inherent skillset. But, we'll leave that for another time. Just take my advice and look for a dog that is territorial and good with kids; it's hard to go wrong if you follow those rules. Also, if you're concerned with security, I would stick with one of the larger breeds and get two at the same time as puppies. That way, they have each other to play with and two dogs will be able to protect your property better than just one.
Also, you should get yourself a couple of cats to control rodents on your property. Believe me, mice are prodigious little critters and they are everywhere when you're out in the boonies. And, what's worse is that your little rural homestead out in the middle of nowhere is like an oasis in the desert to them. Your place is dry when it rains, warm when it's cold, and they survive off human discards, so you do the math. Make sure especially that the cats can get into your pantry and food storage areas so that they can keep your viddles safe and uninfested, as this will be a prime target for the invading host. Mine kill tons of creepy crawlies too.
Personally, I advocate storing food for the cats as well, but after it runs out they can typically fend for themselves if they aren't too pampered and are used to hunting and you haven't done something retarded like having them declawed. Just be advised, they may not stay at your house if you stop feeding them, thus allowing you to become overrun with rodents. Essentially, in that situation, you are bribing the animal to stay on your property and be a good ratter.
On a side note, we have a little Yorky that is a heck of a ratter as well, so don't discount the usefulness of little lap dogs either. We also had a little Pomeranian when I was a kid and I'll never forget this one time watching that little fluffy dog kill a huge creek rat that rivaled him in size without getting a single scratch on him, so it is not an isolated thing.