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CBRN Pet Enclosure System: The Best Way to Protect Your Pets

If you’re like most people, you don’t think about protecting yourself, let alone your pets, from CBRN threats.

Unfortunately though, not everyone has that luxury.

Since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, a staggering 5.7 million Ukrainians have evacuated their homes and fled across international borders. So far, Poland has taken in most of these refugees, a total of 3.1 million. In contrast, others have made their way to Romania, Hungary, Moldova, and—in some cases—even into Russia. Almost all of them were forced to flee with only what they could carry on their backs or in their cars. Most left behind precious possessions and family heirlooms, literally leaving their homes in a warpath without knowing when or even if they will return.

But many of them refused to leave their pets behind.

In countless pictures from the camps and shelters, you see a range of household animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, turtles, and rabbits. It’s estimated that Ukraine was home to some 750,000 dogs and 5.5 million cats as of 2014.

According to one veterinarian who trained in Kyiv, “Ukrainians have an unusually strong bond with their pets and animals in general, which carries over to their distress in this catastrophic war.” Many Americans feel the same way.

Your dogs (and cats and other animals) are more than just fair-weather companions. They’re man's best friends. They’re support dogs. They’re members of the family, and their mere presence can help provide calm when your family needs it most.

You may not realize it, but you can protect them just like any other family member—using most of the same techniques, tools, and knowledge already utilized in standard CBRN protection practices. With just a few minutes of preparation, you and your pets can be ready to face natural disasters, wildfires, chemical threats, and more.

But first, let’s look at where it all started.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 01

    Pets and Other Animals on the Front Lines

  • 02

    Dog Gas Masks? Crucial Pet PPE Considerations

  • 03

    The Best CBRN Protection for Your Pets

  • 04

    5 More Crucial Components for Your Pet’s Bug-Out Bag

  • 05

    Travel Tagging Your Pet

  • 06

    Protecting Your Pet from Natural Disasters

  • 07

    Protecting Your Pet from CBRN Threats

  • 08

    Your Companion Through Thick and Thin

Pets and Other Animals on the Front Lines

Animals, especially dogs and horses, have played a significant role in various wars for thousands of years.

From ancient China to two world wars, dogs have served as diligent sentries, guards, and all-out combatants. The wartime roles of animals have faded from memory because of our increasingly mechanized strategies, but their contributions should not be overlooked.

One Boston terrier named “Stubby” became famous in World War I after saving his regiment from a mustard gas attack, and then he allegedly caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants. Because of his actions, Stubby was officially promoted to Sergeant and became a hero stateside.

(Image source: Image courtesy of JSTOR Daily)

In World War II, a tiny Yorkshire terrier named Smoky followed in Stubby’s footsteps.

Thanks to her tiny size (just 4 lbs.), Smoky was able to run a telegraph wire through a narrow, 70-foot length of pipe in the thick of combat on the island of Luzon. Her actions saved 250 service members from mortal danger and enabled vital communications to keep an entire wing of fighters and reconnaissance planes in the air.

These animals’ contributions were tremendous, and for many, the sacrifice was complete. Millions of horses, dogs, mules, and other pack animals died during the two world wars. As these animals were valuable assets, their armies sought to protect them.

But just one look at these old, dog face masks, immediately reveals a problem.

You simply cannot use a human-style rubber gas mask on a dog. For one, dogs are too furry/hairy for a good seal, and anything tight enough to provide a reliable seal would be unbearable for the animal wearing it.

So, what does it take to protect our pets from potential chemical, biological, and nuclear threats? The answer is complicated …

Dog Gas Masks? Crucial Pet PPE Considerations

Despite being mammals like us, dogs and cats have vastly different body chemistries and CBRN risk profiles.

Are dogs immune to tear gas? Well they are surprisingly resistant. Even in high concentrations, tear gas doesn’t affect dogs nearly as adversely as it does to humans. However, they’re not immune to all CBRN threats. Yet, their noses are sensitive enough to detect even tiny quantities of CBRN threats, explosives, drugs, and other compounds, even from a distance.

That said, you can’t expect your pets to have rational real-world reactions to human-caused disasters. Dogs have been known to run back into burning houses they were just rescued from because the shock of the situation caused them to seek familiar territory—even if it’s on fire.

Every other type of pet, from cats and iguanas to rabbits and turtles, will have a unique response to the situation. It was reported that during the Hong Kong protests of 2019, household and stray cats were severely affected by police tear gas, resulting in such an extreme reaction that one cat apparently clawed at its own eyes due to the irritation.

So, while each pet’s physiology differs from ours, they all need breathable air and a familiar environment to survive. It’s best if their range of movement is limited, as it would be in a pet carrier, and (as mentioned above) traditional gas masks simply aren’t feasible for any pets.

With all these issues in mind, what’s the best way to protect our pets?

There’s only one purpose-built solution.

The Best CBRN Protection for Your Pets

The MIRA Safety CBRN Animal Ark is the most comprehensive and practical protective solution on the market for dogs, cats, reptiles, and other pets.

Once assembled and operational, the Animal Ark acts a pet enclosure system and provides your pets with all the same benefits you get from a standard MIRA Safety gas mask and HAZ-SUIT.

Using the same 40-mm NATO standard gas mask filters as all our MIRA Safety gas masks and the same MB-90 Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) unit, the Animal Ark pet enclosure assembles in seconds and provides a small pocket of breathable air for your pets.

The Ark folds flat and stores quickly when not in use. It’s got a 15-year shelf-life and can be stored in its original packaging in various environments. When you need to use it, simply unfold the unit, assemble, insert your animal, and turn the PAPR on to pressurize the interior. The positive internal pressure will keep the Ark inflated and provide an extra layer of protection.

The outer surface of the Ark is a highly durable laminate-230 construction with reinforced seams. It’s fully translucent and comes with a small panel of grass to help comfort your animal. It can be mounted on a stroller, sled, pickup bed, or wagon for easy transport, and it can provide more than 6 hours of protection, even after exposure to harmful blister agents.

With a 22-pound weight limit, it’s large enough to fit multiple cats or even small dogs. MIRA Safety recommends a separate internal enclosure, such as a travel case, inside the Ark for reptiles, parrots, and other exotic animals.

It’s highly recommended that you practice using the Ark with your animal before an emergency. Your animal needs to be comfortable inside for several hours, and it’s essential that they don’t scratch at the interior. Include a few toys or a blanket to ensure your pet is comfortable.

While this kind of protection comes at a price, it’s completely uncompromising.

Whether you’re facing the risk of smoke and ash inhalation during a wildfire, potential chemical exposure after a significant accident, or even wholly unknown threats, the Animal Ark is simply the best protection for your pets.

Combine that level of protection with a 15-year shelf life and cross-compatibility with your existing filters and equipment, and it’s clearly a worthwhile purchase.

Although the CBRN Animal Ark stands alone in terms of the protection it offers, a few other vital supplies are essential for your pet’s very own bug-out bag/dog survival kit.

5 More Crucial Components for Your Pet’s Bug-Out Bag

Every member of your family should have a practical “bug-out bag” ready for emergencies—and that includes your pets.

As the name implies, the bag is designed to enable you to “bug out” at a moment’s notice and get to safety before disaster strikes. That might sound like overkill, but it quickly became reality for the 5.7 million Ukrainians who’ve evacuated—and likely millions more who will.

The typical bug-out bag is a discreet, medium-sized backpack that contains 72 hours’ worth of essential gear and critical equipment, documentation, and other supplies. When it comes to making a similar bag for your pets, the contents are essentially the same—even if the size is smaller.

Here are the five essential categories of items that every pet’s bug-out bag should have:

    1. Food and water are the first and arguably most important considerations. Bugging out will likely involve a good deal of travel and walking, so you’ll need sustenance to keep you and your pets going. A one-week supply of their favorite food is the minimum, but the more the better. Dry kibble and sealed packets of wet food are ideal for dogs and cats since they’re easy to transport in a broad range of weather conditions. Water is an even easier consideration. Unlike humans, who require a gallon of water every day in hot environments, dogs and cats can survive on as little as one ounce per pound of body weight per day. That means a few extra water bottles will provide more than enough hydration for your pets. Collapsible feeding bowls are another important space-saving consideration in this category.

(Image source: Image courtesy of The Today Show)

    1. Paperwork and medicine are the second-most important items to keep in your pet’s bug-out bag. Many older pets require regular medication, and leaving it behind could create a seriously stressful situation at the worst possible time. Try to stock up an extra few weeks’ or even a month’s worth of medications for your pet. In addition, keep copies of medical records—specifically those pertaining to vaccinations (especially rabies) and other required treatments. Crossing state or national borders could mean dealing with a risky quarantine or medical questions about your furry friend, so it’s best to be prepared with the answers.

       

(Image source: Image courtesy of Strive Pharmacy)

    1. Toys, blankets, and comfort items are essential to keep pets calm and distracted during a potential disaster. Many dogs respond to stress and anxiety by chewing, and having their favorite toy on hand could be the perfect way to keep them occupied and prevent stress/panic. Blankets and other comfort items may be necessary if you’re spending nights in hotels, shelters, or other places your pet is unfamiliar with. Such items are more difficult with larger dogs, but it’s still critical to include at least a few items to keep your pet happy during uncertain times.

(Image source: Image courtesy of Woman’s Day)

    1. A current picture of each pet should be kept on your person, ideally not just on your phone (since the battery can run out). If you and your pet are separated in a strange place, you’ll need a picture to show people. If you’re not reunited, you can leave one or more of these pictures behind, tagged with your phone number for easy contact. Several Ukrainians have been reunited with their pets using this exact method.

(Image source: Image courtesy of Snapewire)

  1. Approved pet carriers or pet enclosures are our final consideration as some shelters, hotels, and airlines require smaller pets to be in a carrier. It’s also essential to ensure you’ve got a suitable carrier for the job. A traditional pet carrier might be enough to evacuate from the path of an oncoming hurricane. But if you’re facing chemical or biological threats, it’s essential to have a CBRN Animal Ark pet enclosure on hand. Regardless of which carrier you choose, ensure it’s marked with your contact information and stored in the same location as your pet’s bug-out bag.

(Image source: Image courtesy of The New York Post)

With these five basic categories covered, you’ve got the foundations of a practical survival kit for your pets. Other optional extras include puppy pads in case your pet must be confined indoors, canned food to add variety to your pet’s diet, and even pepper spray to prevent potential run-ins with other animals.

Like any other bug-out bag, you can use a duffle or a backpack for your pet. The more supplies you can carry, the better. But ensure you’ve got the minimum needed to get to safety—pet stores may not be open in an emergency because of power outages or other disruptions.

Keep a close eye on your animals if you ever have to bug out. Don’t allow them to explore too far from you or drink from puddles or other standing water.

Another crucial tip that few follow, even though it could be essential in reuniting you with a lost pet …

Travel Tagging Your Pet

Both the Humane Society and the ASPCA recommend that both cats and dogs wear collars with ID tags, and the vast majority of American households happily comply.

ID tags are cheap and easy to get just about anywhere—from Amazon online to your local pet store. Often, these tags feature only the pet’s name and home address. Unfortunately, that information isn't helpful if you’re bugging out or even just traveling.

That’s why experts recommend having “travel tags” for your pets. These special tags should be marked with your cell phone number and the name of the city you’re traveling to. Even social media contact information could be helpful if it fits on the tag.

(Image source: Image courtesy of Carrier Pawpins)

If you’re separated, a traditional tag won’t provide any helpful information on how to reach you immediately. With a travel tag, whoever finds your pet can punch in your phone number or message you online right away.

Many dogs and cats are microchipped with an id tag under their skin, but reading a chip requires a visit to a veterinarian. Even then, contact information is limited and may be outdated.

Travel tags only cost a few dollars, but they could be a real lifesaver in terms of reuniting you with your pet. You can easily create several backup travel tags and keep them with your pet’s bug-out bag.

If you think being reunited with a lost pet amid a disaster is unlikely, think again. There are already countless stories of Ukrainian refugees being reunited with their family pets despite the ongoing Russian invasion.

Protecting Your Pet from Natural Disasters

Once you’ve got the right equipment to protect your pet, it’s time to make a plan.

It’s best to focus on planning for just two types of potential evacuation scenarios. The first type includes natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, or other events that provide some advance warning.

For these events, store one carrier for each pet in an easily accessible location. Mark the carrier with your personal contact information, as discussed above, and attach a waterproof envelope/bag with copies of your pet’s latest vaccinations. Each pet’s bug-out bag should be stored nearby.

(Image source: Image courtesy of Time)

Exotic pets may require additional equipment like water heaters or heating rocks for lizards. Don’t leave these elements out of your preparation. Bring along a small power station if any equipment requires electricity.

Tackling these preparations ahead of time means you won’t have to fret about them in the moment, so you can grab what you need and get out. Many natural disasters provide between a few hours’ and a few days’ advance notice, but you won’t want to risk forgetting anything.

Once you hit the road, start scouting for lodgings as soon as possible. If you’re evacuating the area, you’re probably not alone. Hotel rooms and shelter beds will fill up fast, so act sooner rather than later, especially if you’re looking for pet-friendly lodgings.

On that note, it’s essential to acknowledge that not all shelters or hotels accommodate pets. Many shelters are obligated by law to have a plan to care for pets, but that often involves sending them to a separate animal shelter for the duration of your stay. That’s why it’s important to call ahead and why each pet must have its own travel carrier.

How long you’ll be away from home will vary depending on the type of disaster you’re fleeing. Floods don’t often last more than a few days, and the effects of a hurricane may linger for a week or two, but there are always outliers. You could be away from home for an extended period or, in some cases, unable to return at all.

That’s why it’s crucial to bring your pets with you.

Protecting Your Pet from CBRN Threats

The second type of evacuation scenario involves airborne threats ranging from chemical warfare agents to toxic industrial chemicals and even nuclear fallout. This includes wildfires and any other disaster that involves airborne particulates that shouldn’t be inhaled or allowed to come in contact with skin.

In this scenario, you’d be reaching for the CBRN Animal Ark instead of a traditional pet carrier. You’ll also need an MB-90 Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) or a similar device and gas mask filters to protect your pet from whatever threats you might be facing. It’s not always possible to have this kit pre-assembled, so take your time to ensure that everything is tightly sealed and ready to use.

Gas mask filters are an essential factor because they can only protect your pet from the specific threats they’re rated for. So, do your best to figure out precisely what threats are in the environment you’re headed into, then double-check to ensure you’ve got the right filters for the job.

Once you’ve attached the right filters and assembled the Animal Ark, place your pet inside. Take a few minutes to calm the animal before putting them in the Ark, and add any essentials they might need over the next few hours, like water and food. If you’re mounting the Ark on a wagon or sled, do that last.

It's essential to “suit up” your pets before suiting up yourself. Almost any animal can survive comfortably for many hours inside the Animal Ark pet enclosure—even longer than you can remain comfortable in an impermeable hazmat suit. Moreover, seeing your face and body as usual while they’re being placed inside the Ark is calming. Doing so while wearing a hazmat suit might frighten them, and it’s best not to risk a paw slashing the surface of your hazmat suit or the rubber facepiece of a gas mask.

Once your pet is comfortably inside and the PAPR is switched on, it’s time to suit up yourself and your family. Once everyone’s good to go, depart as usual and frequently check your pet through the window of the CBRN Animal Ark pet enclosure. Smaller animals are unlikely to rip through or compromise the integrity of the enclosure, but you want to be sure your animal remains calm and relaxed.

Once you’ve navigated your way to safety, the decontamination rules that apply to humans also apply to pets. The enclosure must be thoroughly and professionally decontaminated, removing any and all threats from the surface before it’s safe to remove your pets. Do not remove any filters or power off the PAPR before this process is complete.

Your Companion Through Thick and Thin

If Ukrainians have an “unusually close” relationship with their animals, that’s something Americans can understand.

Since they first helped scout the Western frontier or clear our farms of pests, dogs and cats have been an integral part of the American way of life. Most of today’s animals spend more time on the couch than on the ranch, but they’re still a crucial part of our family. And they deserve our protection.

(Image source: Image courtesy of The Los Angeles Times)

Whether that means taking them along when you flee the path of an oncoming tornado or wildfire or using the Animal Ark to carry them through an unprecedented catastrophe—it’s a matter of being prepared with the right equipment and knowledge ahead of time.

So, set up your pet’s bug-out bag, familiarize them with the Animal Ark, and always include them in your family’s escape plans.

They’re more than just “man’s best friend.” Our pets provide much-needed comfort that can be crucial for getting the entire family through disasters unscathed. They’re family, and MIRA Safety’s singular goal is to help protect you and your family from any disasters that may come your way.