NOTE: The author is in no way connected with Dogs on Deployment, its management or its founders.
The United States has been in a continued state of war for over a decade now and while opinions differ on the wars, most Americans agree that our brave men and women need as much support from the home front as possible. A lot of charities exist to this end, from supporting our wounded heroes and their children, to groups that send care packages to the deployed members, to organizations that pair veterans (especially those who were injured or suffer from post traumatic stress disorder) with service animals.
One problem that has been long overlooked for our deploying service members, however, is what to do with pets when overseas. For many of our troops, especially those youngest and most heavily deployed, there exists little aid for loved animal friends during long, dangerous and stressful deployments. While many soldiers can rely upon family and friends to care for their pets, this is not always an option. Even worse are stories of plans falling through; what happens when the family member decides looking after a loved dog is too difficult and gives it to a shelter? This horrific scenario is not uncommon at all.
Recognizing these problems, husband and wife team Alisa and Shawn Johnson, both military members themselves, created Dogs on Deployment in the summer of 2011. The non-profit seeks to pair deploying members with responsible and dedicated caregivers to look after their furry family members while out of the country. Since its creation, dozens of animals from dogs and cats to the periodic bird or fish have been united with such caregivers.
While Dogs on Deployment , similar to other charities, is always looking for monetary support, according to their website they are in greater need of individuals willing to donate their time and homes to foster these pets while their owners are away. Would-be volunteer fosterers can use the website to search for needy pets in their area. You can also refine searches by type, size and gender of the animal. Each pet’s profile also lists breed, name, age and other important information such as behavior around other animals and children.
If a foster family agrees to take care of a pet in need, Dogs on Deployment can help organize transportation for the animal. During the foster period the owner of the pet is entirely responsible for all costs associated with the boarding, including food, toys, medical care and grooming. Dogs on Deployment also helps to facilitate meetings between owners (and pets) and would-be foster families to ensure that the arrangement is a good fit for all involved.
Ultimately, one of the most difficult situations our brave men and women face with deployment is the care of their beloved pets. Dogs on Deployment helps connect deploying troops with trusted foster families to take their animals in for the duration of the deployment. If you are a service member in such a need, or someone willing to potentially foster one of the pets in need, please visit Dogs on Deployment or friend them on Facebook. And remember to give Dogs on Deployment information to local shelters to advise troops thinking of surrendering their pets because of their military obligations, after all information can save a life!