Originally published Dec. 12, 2016
Our military members have a tough enough job to do in keeping this nation safe from enemy threats without having added burdens of having to give up their companion animals each time they are temporarily deployed. For you see, not all military personnel are constantly on the move; many are stationed at a base and only rarely sent away on TDY (Temporary DutY), so these people get to enjoy much the same life civilians do, including having pets. When duty does call them away, and if they are single, they must either find a reliable caretaker for their furkid – or give them up permanently.
Providing foster care for a military member’s beloved pet can relieve a great strain on them and offer support while they are off serving our nation.
Who Should Foster Military Pets
The best solution would be a neighbor or family member who is close to the military person’s home and is familiar with the animal – and it with them. This familiarity will help reduce the emotional strain on the animal when its normal caretaker disappears.
If that is not available, a reliable animal foster home or program should be sought. The FosterDogs.com web site offers a page that lists many programs set up specifically to help military personnel while on temporary deployment: Military Pets. Other sources would be local animal shelters and rescue organizations that use foster homes to house some of their animals.
Make a pet plan
Whether a military pet will stay with family, friends or a foster caregiver, the following steps from the American Humane Society will ensure that the pet is well cared for and safely reunited with its owner after deployment ends.
Create a written pet care agreement. The agreement should cover important issues such as what will happen to the pet if the temporary caregiver can no longer care for him, who is liable for any damage done by the pet, what will happen if the owner is unable to reclaim the pet, and what happens if the pet is injured or dies while in the temporary home.
Pet personal profile
Complete a pet profile to help the caretaker understand the pet’s particular needs. This profile should include the animal’s health history, medications, temperament, eating and sleeping habits, training and any other important information.
Vet and vaccinations
Ensure the pet’s vaccinations are updated and provide the caretaker with veterinary records. Leave the caregiver with contact information for the pet’s regular veterinarian.
Tag the pet with all required rabies and license tags, and make sure that all tags include the temporary caretaker’s contact information. Microchipping the animal is also strongly recommended, since microchips provide permanent identification that will always be with your pet.
Handling routine needs
Reach an agreement on how to handle expenses for food, toys, grooming, and routine and emergency care, and make arrangements to provide the necessary funds to the caregiver.
Can You Help?
If you are an animal foster care provider, or interested in providing foster care, check with the Military Pets page – many of those organizations are national networks – and put your name on their list as a potential foster home for military pets. You could end up providing a service to our military and to someone’s beloved companion.
The Flip Side
The other side of this coin is if you are a military person and are afraid of getting a pet because you would likely have to give them up if you are deployed, you should consider animal fostering. This does lack the long term relationship of becoming an animal’s forever home, but it fills a need in your life and in theirs. Saving the lives of these animals is very fulfilling. If you are deployed, the animal has a place to go. Talk to your local animal shelter or rescue program about their foster care program. This could be an ideal solution for you.
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