Packing an Emergency “Go Bag” for Pets: Is It Possible?


Organisation, preparation and planning belongings to leave the home suddenly doesn’t always go to plan, especially when faced with trauma, the threat to your life, and that of your pet. Victims, any gender, often lose their lives because an abuser discovers an escape is imminent. This abuser will threaten or kill a beloved pet, knowing it will break the victim mentally, forcing the victim back into a submissive state.

As someone whose family planned an escape for me and my senior cat Tabitha (aged 16 at the time), the best plans can go wrong.

Drawing from firsthand experience, it’s important to emphasise that although narcissists follow the same traits, the sequence of events can differ. I also believe that each abusive relationship the narcissist has gets progressively worse over the years. Physical abuse, for example, may be subtle in the early days but with each future supply, or victim, the physical deepens into domestic violence. Today, now free of a horrific relationship, I wonder, but mustn’t, what the next woman will suffer from and whether death threats will be carried out.

When you’ve carefully prepared a secret emergency bag for both yourself and your pet, the overwhelming fear of a physical assault, or death, can intensify. Victims experience several attempts or thoughts of leaving but never fulfil the ambition – often the abuser suddenly becomes kind and calm, and for me, it became a respite – so I stayed. This was combined with the fear of leaving and what he’d do if he found out, and of course, being told repeatedly, I had nothing.

You may be lucky that family, having arranged your escape, are there on your escape day so you and your pet can leave in safety. Or as a woman experienced in 2024, a neighbour made a 999 call because of noise from a neighbour. This neighbour saved the life of a woman and her dog.

Her abuser threatened to kill her dog if she didn’t unlock the bathroom door. He unsuccessfully strangled her.

Facing death, as I did, is a terrifying ordeal. When released, your primary instinct is to run, grabbing your pet.

This intense fear and the sudden pressing need to escape swiftly can lead to both emergency bags being unintentionally left behind or forgotten, becoming secondary concerns in the face of immediate danger and time constraints.

Reality emergency “go bag”

Puppy pads are recommended for border collie puppies during the night or anxious border collies soiling in the house
Extra large puppy pads

From my own experience, I decided to list two scenarios – the official pet emergency bag from other websites, and one I compiled based on my experience.

Too afraid to pack a bag of essential belongings for me, I focused on what my 16-year-old cat Tabitha required. I wasn’t sure how I’d secretly assemble an emergency bag for her (including lifesaving medication), so I carefully prepared little things.

1 – I used my biggest handbag over a few weeks instead of changing suddenly and tucked my car keys deep inside instead of on the hook by the front door. I kept my handbag in the kitchen between the front and back door. Another woman I knew slept with car and house keys beneath her pillow

2 – I put a front door key on the inside window ledge, hidden by a voile, if I needed to leave the house quickly – the window was adjacent to the front door. Normally the key and other oddments were kept in a glass bowl nearby. I knew I may not have time to locate the key quickly

3 – A spare back door key always hung on a hook near the back door and I hoped I would never be moved. I didn’t want to search in my handbag for house keys. Grab & go was the only option

4 – Tabitha loved being upstairs and preferred eating and using her toilet upstairs too, together with sleeping in her bed house. I casually mentioned to my abuser that I was keeping Tabitha’s things tidy inside a large shopping bag. The bag was an extra large shopping I found in Poundstretcher for £1, and the rest of the bags were beneath the carpet in my car boot in readiness for when my family helped me leave

I packed the following for Tabitha’s needs:

a) the remnants of cat litter, folding it down and placing it in the bag first. The amount was equivalent to a large mug full

b) the last few sheets of handroll

c) a nearly empty pack of pet wipes

d) a few folded puppy pads

e) two cans of Gourment cat food and the remnants of cat biscuits deep down inside the cat carrier pocket

f) two small dog stainless steel bowls fitted together

g) microchip card

5 – Tabitha doesn’t have a hard plastic carrier. Instead, she has a foldable carrier designed for dogs with plenty of room. Inside is a cushion with a zip cover, ideal for hiding things. When she last attended her first veterinary consultation of 2023, I purposefully left the carrier assembled and put it in a room where it could be easily retrieved. Ensure your cat’s carrier is assembled and in a room near your cat

6 – I tucked folded puppy pads in the carrier pocket, and the rest beneath the base cushion. Concealing flat objects inside a zip-up cushion compartment would have been better but that never crossed my mind. Tabitha’s harness lived in the carrier pocket with a sealed charity collection bag. I pushed two cans of Gourmet deep inside the outside pocket but an alternative is to hide a couple of pouches inside the cushion. Because Tabitha is geriatric, I always covered the carrier cushion with a puppy pad, but this time I put a large jumbled blanket over it all

7 – If able to do so, photograph any latest medical documents, especially the latest prescription even though it may be uploaded to a retailer’s website. Upload to Google Drive – keep that a secret – use a simple password you won’t forget. Do the same with a microchip card but hide the hardcopy inside the carrier

8 – Keep some meds hidden in your handbag or inside the carrier. I forgot to hide some of Tabitha’s life-saving medicines. Time is never on your side when escaping danger

9 – If able to do so, update your pet’s microchip profile and state ‘Domestic Abuse’. Again, change the password. Notify your vet and state you are the only person allowed to make decisions about your pet. Abusers will break you by using pets against you

9 – Place a dog lead near any exits of the home and a backup in a handbag with house and car keys. If you have managed to shop alone, buy spare leads. Poundland sells leads for £1. Make sure you use the backups before your escape so your abuser is aware of them, as when leaving leads by your exits, it won’t appear odd

10 – Make sure any form of carrier is ready to go for small furries. Budgies and hamsters in cages can be grabbed

11 – Ensure a lead hangs inside the door to a dog kennel or hide the lead and padlock keys in a waterproof bag outside. Include spare medication if applicable

12 – Ensure an assembled carrier is ready for small outdoor pets

14 – Don’t forget, you may leave at night. Invest in a high-quality torch and hide near outdoor pets

I completely understand this depends on the situation, even one single night circumstances can change and become desperate. When I reached my desperate situation, picking up Tabitha’s ‘Go Bag’ was the least on my mind. My main concerns were reaching Tabitha, putting her in her carrier, and getting out of the house. However, I’d forgotten to put spare medication in her carrier and had to run back to the main bedroom, never letting go of Tabitha, and then we fled.

The other problem is if you have more than one pet. grabbing them all will prove difficult. All I can suggest here is trusting a family member or friend, and entrusting your pet with them. You will have to face the questions and distrust from your abuser though.

All I can recommend is to try to put a few things together. If you flee during a dangerous situation, as I did, you can’t guarantee you’ll have time or remember your ‘Go Bag’, but medication, carrier, or a lead is important.

The official emergency ‘Go Bag’

low cost supermarket aldi dog water travel water bowl
Collapsible bowls

Websites with authority suggest a list of what to pack for your pet depending on emergency circumstances—for example, natural disasters. But overall, the list covers all emergencies. The bag contents are quite exhaustive and plentiful.

The following is a list of contents for the official emergency bag:

1 – Food and water bowls. Collapsible bowls are the best and can be bought cheaply at Poundstretcher

2 – Small bottle of water and food

3 – Small bag of your feline’s favourite litter. These are heavy and if needing to escape quickly, believe me, you won’t be picking up a heavy bag of cat litter

4 – Lead and / or harness. I recommend getting your cat used to a harness in readiness for toileting purposes or carrier frustrations after you leave

5 – Blanket

6 – Toys. Maybe a small chew and toy to keep your dog occupied after you’ve left

7 – Spare medication, original prescription, and / or details of which online retailer the prescription was uploaded to

8 – Vaccination card. If your pet needs to go into emergency accommodation, this card will prove your pet is up to date with vaccinations

9 – Microchip card

10 – Veterinary details

11 – Cat carrier or pillowcase

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Conclusion

Even though I have experience of preparing a ‘go bag’ and fleeing, what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another or their pets. I packed items appropriate for Tabitha’s needs thinking I would have time to grab the bag. I certainly didn’t consider how I would manage to carry Tabitha in her carrier plus a ‘go bag’. And, whilst prepping, and even though I’d received death threats, I still didn’t believe that this man I lived with would be so close to carrying out what he described.

When I fled with Tabitha, all I could do was grab her, buddle her into her carrier, grab her medication, my handbag and flee.

I was in a real-life domestic abuse relationship

Lesley

The reason I write and make YouTube videos is to help you and your pets from my experiences, and to take you through a journey of Green Living from worm composting and bokashi.

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