Military deployment and your pets

So you received your military deployment orders and don’t know what to do with your dog or cat. At Pets for Patriots, we get calls every week from service members who are distraught at the prospect of parting with their beloved animals.

Fortunately there are alternatives to relinquishing your four-legged family member to the local pound. 

FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Unmarried, deploying service members often turn to a loved one, parent or friend. But the ties that bind don’t always translate into the best situation for your pet, or the person entrusted with its care. Ask yourself: 

-       Is this person able to manage my dog’s or cat’s physical needs? This is especially important if you have a large or high-energy pet, and the potential caregiver is a senior, has physical limitations, is unable to provide the level of activity your pet requires, or isn’t strong enough to handle a large animal. Occasionally we get calls from elderly parents who find themselves unable to care for their child’s pet, and feel they have no choice but to surrender it to the shelter. In these situations, nobody wins – particularly the animal.

-       Does this person have an existing and positive relationship with my pet? Never leave your four-legged friend with someone they don’t know and who doesn’t know them, much less for extended periods of time. Recently we assisted a Marine veteran who was in treatment for PTSD, and left her dog in the care of a casual acquaintance. When this person would no longer care for the little Rascal, we stepped in to save the animal and reunite him with his veteran.

-       Can I provide all of the necessary resources to ensure my pet’s health in my absence? Be sure to hand over all veterinary contact information, and let your veterinarian know who will be responsible for your dog or cat while you’re deployed. Discuss any medication or special treatment the animal requires with its temporary caregiver. And don’t forget to make arrangements to pay for food, supplies, grooming, veterinary care and emergencies. Your pet is still your financial responsibility.

-       Is this person able to reasonably maintain my pet’s daily routines? Discuss its daily schedule – feeding, exercise, play and sleep times – to ensure that your dog or cat can enjoy its customary lifestyle. Pets like routine, and will experience some degree of stress as a result of your absence. It’s important to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible.

-       Does this person live in an area that bans my particular breed of dog? Many communities enforce Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, that ban ownership of a range of dog breeds they deem to be dangerous. We’ll save a discussion of the wisdom of BSL for another time, but check the laws where your pet will be temporarily homed to ensure it doesn’t violate any BSL restrictions.

FOSTERING YOUR DOG OR CAT

If you don’t know someone who can care for your four-legged friend responsibly, consider a professional foster organization. Pet fostering is a small, but rapidly growing industry providing short- and long-term care to pets of individuals who are in the military, are hospitalized or displaced due to natural or other disaster. The animal is typically fostered within a private home, and some states require that foster homes be licensed.

One such organization and a partner to our charity focuses exclusively on pet fostering for deployed military personnel, homeless veterans and those undergoing wounded care treatment. Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is a 501(c)(3) charity that operates nationally and relies on a network of volunteer foster homes to match pets with an appropriate caregiver in your state.

Another excellent, nationally-operating not-for-profit is NetPets, which operates a Military Pets Foster Project for a wide range of service members’ pets, including dogs, cats, birds and horses. Founded in the wake of 9/11, NetPets has fostered more than 17,000 pets to date.

In addition, there’s a relatively new online, not-for-profit resource founded and managed by two active duty service members worth checking out as well: Dogs on Deployment. The site works to pair boarders with service members in need of pet fosters, whether for deployment, illness or other circumstance that renders them temporarily unable to care for their pets. While the majority of their focus is on major bases on the two coasts, Dogs on Deployment accepts applications from all over the country and will try to connect service members in need with local resources.

With a little planning, you can ensure responsible care for your pet and look forward to an emotional reunion when you return from deployment!

Comments

  1. My husband and I are available to foster a military members dog (or two). How do we get in touch with an organization to let them know we’re able to do this?

    • Rebecca, we suggest you contact our partner Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and apply to be a pet foster for a deployed service member. Thank you for stepping up!

    • Nicole Gallagher says:

      My son is a deployed Marine. I have been caring for his two labs, but I have to move to care for my ill parent. I, myself, am a single mom. I cannot take the dogs. Can anyone help? These two dogs are best friends. Please, someone help us. I can transport and help a little with food.

    • ergin Hazirci says:

      Im a Nationalguard member.I have a yr and half old nuturedfemale chocalate labrador. I have to leave duty for a month. idont have anybody to trust to live her..Is anyone will helpme to watch my dog while im away for militaryduty? thankyou.

  2. oops. Nevermind. Answered my own question!

  3. In the compiltaced world we live in, it’s good to find simple solutions.

  4. A friend sent me a notice last night of a dog turned over to the Denton, Texas, animal services because her owner was being deployed. I have written to the director there asking that she try to contact the owner and tell him of these options. Sadly, his dog, Lady, Pet ID 35744 was turned over to a city shelter where she will not be kept alive if not adopted quickly. Ideally, it would be nice if she could be fostered until the soldier returns. If there is anyone in the DFW area that could rescue her (and hopefully foster), please do so and ask the shelter to contact her owner of her whereabouts so he can have her back upon return. This soldier is already sacrificing so much. The sacrifice should not include sacrificing a four-legged best friend too. http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/21284991

  5. Glad to meet you! Last year I helped a young woman who needed a foster home for her two pups during a year sojourn in Iraq. What worked was posting her home for rent on MilitaryByOwner.com Not only did she find a wonderful military couple who rented her home – they also cared for her two dogs. It worked beautifully for everyone.

    Best to all!

  6. lori menhusen says:

    I can’t believe that every shelter in the country doesn’t have these resources on speed dial.my heart breaks for the soldier in Texas who may learn that his beloved pet was killed in a heartless shelter. I re-posted that part of this blog separately ,hoping my friends in Texas would also & maybe we can find a home that way…

    • Lori, it is not the shelter’s responsibility, although we agree it would be helpful if they had this information to counsel potential military surrenders. Once an animal is surrendered to them, it is legally no longer “owned” by the service member and therefore not eligible for military pet foster programs. Owners, including active duty military, must take responsibility to educate themselves about options to ensure the continuous care of their pets if they are deployed. Sadly, some wait until the last minute to find long-term temporary care for their pet, by which time it’s often too late.

      • Now that is ridiculous! The dog should be sheltered anyway and the former owner contacted. Sometimes the service member is overwhelmed and make poor choices which they later regret. Helping to make the poor decision have a better outcome should not be canceled by some “rule” you have. Such hogwash!

  7. I own a pet sitting , dog walking business in Northern Va, and offer great military discounts for long term overnight care in my home for pets whose parents are deployed. Basically just to cover the cost of food, etc. My husband is a Lt Colonel in the Marines, so we gladly will do this for anyone in the DC, Maryland or Northern VA area.
    Please feel free to contact me at 571 338 7297.

  8. well i would love to help if i could and how do i do this

  9. I am a deploying service member in need of a foster for my dog. The arrangements i made months ago fell through and i might have to send my dog back to the shelter. If there is anyone looking to foster a dog in or around the Austin area please let me know.

  10. JOVAN BOWSER says:

    I AM LOOKING FOR CARE FOR MY BABY. SHE IS A MINI AMERICAN ESKIMO 22LBS. MY FAMILY MEMBER HAS TO MOVE AND CANNOT TAKE CARE OF HER ANYMORE. I RETURN OFF DEPLOYMENT IN OCTOBER I LOVE IN CHESAPEAKE,VA. i WOULD PREFER HER TO BE ALONE OR TRY TO INTEGRATE HER WITH ANOTHER SMALL ANIMAL. SHE DOES NOT LIKE MAILMEN OR CATS LOL.. I ADOPTED HER FROM A SHELTER 6 YEARS AGO AND IM A LITTLE SKEPTICAL BECAUSE SHE WAS ABUSED BEFORE I GOT HER BUT SHE IS LOVABLE AND IS A LONER BUT LOVES TO RUN IN A BIG YARD AND PLAY CATCH!

  11. Does anyone know any program in Washington state that can provide foster pet care? i have 2 cats and while I am not active duty, my husband is and he is currenlty deployed to Afghanistan. There is a high chance that i will be deploying to Afghanistan with my job for 6 months max. Some programs limit their support to single soldiers or dual military and not DOD civilians. I am unsure how it works for our situation – active duty/DOD civilian marriage. Any insights or help would greatly be appreciated. I don’t have any family here in WA state and all my friends are either allergic or have dogs of their own and my cats don’t function well with a dog in sight. Any help is greatly appreciated!! Thank you.

  12. PACT for Animals is a Non-Profit Organization that actively recruits, checks, and connects foster families with military service members in need of animal care during deployment. We are located in the Philadelphia, PA area, but will find sweet, in-home foster care with one of our volunteers for any animal that you can get to us. We do require that animals are altered and current on all shots including kennel cough. Check http://www.pactforanimals.org for more information.

  13. Alyssa Louro says:

    Hi all,

    I am facing a very difficult reality concerning my adorable terrier mix, Cally, as we are moving to our first duty station at Lackland AFB in September where my husband will be attached to an Army unit. We are choosing to live off base and all the apartment complexes besides one in the area of San Antonio that we are looking, will accept my dog because of her mixed “aggressive” breed. She looks mostly boxer/staffordshire/pit and according to my vet, a variety of other breeds. These rules are very strict and they won’t even accept her if I got a DNA test done and it indicated that she is 10% terrier….

    I’m holding out hope that we like the apartment that will accept her, but I realize there is such a small chance. Another issue we have is that she is urine incontinent which means she needs to remain on medication for the rest of her life and she drips 24/7. Without this problem, I know many people who would take her in but it is definitely a commitment and burden to take on. She also isn’t a big fan of other dogs.

    If I do need to give her up, what is my best option? Can anyone recommend a SAFE place for her to call home and have a family who loves her as much as we do? She’s about 45 lbs and sits on my hip like a baby, follows me around and loves people. She has been trained and knows her commands very well. She’s incredibly playful and full of energy.

    Any help or advice will be EXTREMELY appreciated. Cally is my first ever dog and I’ve had her since my husband left for basic training this past November. Needless to say, she’s been more than a pet to me. I can be reached at awelch048@yahoo.com We currently live in New Jersey.

    Thank you very much,

    Alyssa Louro

  14. I am looking for long term care for a military pet. My sister’s husband in deployed and she has a debilitating health condition and cannot take care of their dog. If anyone has a home for her dog that would be so helpful and her husband would be very grateful.

    • Christine says:

      Where are you located? my husband and I are interested in fostering dogs for military personnel that are being deployed. We are located on Long Island in NY

  15. We are a military family, my husband just received orders to Okinawa, Japan. We will be stationed there for three years. We financially can’t afford to fly our dogs over with us, and don’t want them to have to be quarantined for who knows how long. We would be so blessed to find someone or a family to adopt them until we return state side, or if we can’t find some one to adopt them, if we could find a new permanent home for them. They are the sweetest dogs, they house trained and love kids!!! We have a shar-pei and a cockapoo. Both have been spade, and are up to date on all shots! If you could help or know someone who can, please contact us via email. Usmcculp@gmail.com

  16. I have a pitbull, I leave for basic training for the army July 1st. Is there anyone who would be willing to take care of her while I’m gone, she will be 6 months when I leave. She’s playful and likes little kids and other dogs.

  17. Hello.. my situation is a little different from most of these posts. I am currently already on deployment and my husband is in Norfolk taking care of our two cats, who are litter-mates. Upon my return to the States, we will be getting a divorce and he has not told me what his plan is for the cats. Since I don’t want the possibility of his leaving them in the apartment to starve or letting them run wild around the city, I am trying to make some long-distance plans for them.

    The problem I have is that after the divorce, we will lose our additional income, our BAH (we’re mil-mil) and this will cause me to lose my ability to pay for the apartment and he doesn’t want to keep the apartment either. Until I am an E-4 with four years in (which is November of this year), I will not be able to take care of the cats. My parents already have two cats and a dog in their place in Florida and the only friend willing to take them in has a full-time job and is a full-time student at her college, also in Florida.

    I need someone who would be willing to take the cats in for a max of seven months until I can take care of them again. I don’t want to give my babies back to the pound I adopted them from and my last resort is a kennel for kitties or the Humane Society. They’re adults now and I don’t want my big girls to be in a cramped cage for seven months. I don’t want them to be in cages at all. And I don’t want them separated. They sleep on each other..

    Can anyone help? I’m very distressed over this. My email is harmonee.831@gmail.com. Please let me know if there is anyone in my area (Northern Virginia) or in Florida (where my parents or best friend could pick them up if I’m underway when the time is up) who would be willing to assist me. I would greatly appreciate it!

  18. Tammy Vettore says:

    My Son is getting discharged in 2 weeks the lady who was watching his dog took him to the shelter today. I have 4 dogs of my own and can’t take him at legal limit. We need help plz we are in Illinois and after a tour in Afghanistan it breaks my heart to hear him plead for help with his dog

Trackbacks

  1. [...] are not always the best option to provide multi-year care for your pet when you PCS. Many of the questions you need to ask if you’re PCSing are the same as those that apply if you’re deploy…, including whether your parents or pals are up to the [...]

  2. [...] of municipal breed bans. The issue is further complicated when service members deploy and seek to foster their pets, since BSL limits where these pets can be cared for while awaiting their owners’ [...]

  3. [...] her years growing up, when her family adopted cats and dogs from their local shelter. But between deployments and one cat suffering from separation anxiety, Kathy felt she had no choice but to relinquish her [...]

  4. [...] Now separated from service, Anna and her husband enjoy any opportunity to be outdoors and particularly love to hike. Still, they sensed something was missing in their lives when they stepped up to help a fellow veteran who was leaving for deployment. [...]

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