You have no doubt seen many military members deploy from the U.S. overseas. But what happens to their pets who are left behind?
It was a question we posed recently and came away with some interesting information about a nonprofit organization called Dogs on Deployment. Their mission is to find civilians to care for their animals while they are overseas and reunite them when they return home.
How it Works
When a member of the military gets orders to go overseas, they can use the Dogs on Deployment website to find a volunteer to care for their animal. This not only gives them peace of mind but also alleviates overcrowding in shelters due to the need to surrender a loved one.
And this service isn’t restricted to cats and dogs. All types of pets are accepted and multiple resources are provided including the possibility of financial assistance during pet emergencies and low cost spay and neuter programs.
Military members can register their animals as Pets in Need and volunteer boarders can sign up as well which will allow both parties to communicate with each other. DoD does not create the boarding arrangements but just acts as a listing site.
DoD wants to involve as many boarders as possible near and around military bases, typically within a 50-mile radius.
This would mean that available boarders could be found no matter where the soldier is stationed and no matter from where they are deploying.
The nonprofit was founded by Shawn and Alisa Johnson who are both active military personnel. They discovered the need for DoD after Alisa was given orders to Quantico, Shawn was being deployed and they had their miniature Australian shepherd to think about.
Making a Plan
One of the most important areas of thought for someone who is active military is making a plan. Some may have friends and family to help out with their pets and, if the possibility for deployment is great, a plan should be made with the private caregiver in addition to an organization like Dogs on Deployment.
Part of this private caregiver plan should include a written agreement covering things like what happens to the pet should the military member not return home, the caregiver can no longer care for the pet and what happens if the pet has an emergency.
If there is no private caregiver, an organization like DoD can help a military member find a volunteer.
The only thing DoD asks is that the boarder is permitted to have the pet she is going to care for. Some condo associations have breed restrictions as well as the number and size of pets allowed.
Volunteers may sign up to board for short term stays or longer deployments. The owner remains responsible for all expenses incurred by the boarder and there is even a DoD boarding contract to make things clear.
If you’d like to help military personnel by caring for their pets while they are deployed, contact Dogs on Deployment through their website.
Image Credit: istockphoto.com