Preparing pets for your deployment
Hello military community,
As service members receive deployment orders and start making plans, many find themselves making one of the most important decisions – what to do with your pet. This may even be a new dilemma for some.
I find myself answering many questions about this subject lately. Many people wonder if there is any caregiving help for their pets, which in many cases can be like their child.
Unmarried, deploying service members often turn to a loved one, parent or friend. But ties that bind don’t always translate into the best situation for your pet, or the person entrusted with its care. Issues you need to take into consideration before you deploy are:
- Is this person able to manage your pets’ physical needs? Things like physical activity, and your pet’s energy and emotional needs. For instance, if caregiver is a senior and has limited mobility they may be unable to provide the level of activity your pet requires, or be strong enough to handle it.
- Does the caregiver have an existing and positive relationship with your pet? This can greatly impact the stress and emotional outcome for any pet being separated from its owner, especially over extended periods of time.
- Be sure to provide all necessary resources for the upkeep and security of your pet. Things like veterinary contact information, health concerns and letting the vet know who will be responsible for your pet, as well. Don’t forget to make arrangements to pay for food, supplies, grooming, veterinary care and emergencies. Your pet is still YOUR responsibility.
- Make sure your caregiver is reasonably able to maintain your pet’s daily routines. Just as we need structure and stability so do our pets. Make sure feeding, exercise, and play along with sleeping habits are discussed ahead of time. Pets like routine, and will experience some degree of stress as a result of your absence. To help the transition and stop any “accidents,” it is important to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible.
- An important law for those of you who PCS every couple years to different countries and states is the Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL. It bans ownership of a range of dog breeds deemed to be dangerous. So make sure you check these laws not only where you plan to live but also where your pet will be temporarily housed.
If you find yourself in a situation without a trusted caregiver you can consider a professional foster organization. Pet fostering is a small, but rapidly growing industry providing short- and long-term care to pets belonging to military personnel or that have been hospitalized or displaced due to disasters. The pets will typically be fostered within a private home, and some states require that foster homes be licensed.
One organization which focuses exclusively on pets for deployed military personnel, homeless veterans and those undergoing wounded care treatment is Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pets (www.GuardianAngelsforSoldiersPet.org). They are a tax-exempt 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 (www.NetPets.org), 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 boasts fostering more than 17,000 pets to date.
A new resource which I am hearing good things about is Dogs on Deployment (www.DogsonDeployment.org), which was founded by two service members and works to pair boarders with service members in need of pet fosters, whether for deployment, illness, or other circumstances that render 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 work to connect service members in need with local resources. I hope these resources can put your mind at ease. As always feel free to contact me at any time with your questions.
Blessings from my family to yours,
If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at Kim@MilitaryResourceBooks.com and visit my website at MilitaryResourceBooks.com for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.