CARING FOR YOUR PET WHEN CALLED TO DUTY
Caring for a pet while in the military often involves making decisions that civilians rarely have to consider. Just like civilians, military personnel and their families want the love and friendship of a companion animal, but transfers, temporary separation from family and friends, and sudden deployment can upset even the best of plans.
If you are concerned because you must move with or give up your animal, don't be afraid to ask for assistance. There are a number of people who want to help, including your base veterinarian, your community animal shelter, humane society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA), animal behaviorists, and local, state and national animal protection organizations.
What if I'm Deployed And Need To Find A Temporary Home For My Pet?
There are options available to those individuals and their families unable to temporarily care for their companion animal, including:
Relatives and Friends
Loved ones should be the first place you look when seeking a temporary home for your pet. A short-term arrangement with family and friends can provide your pet with a sense of security, while providing you with the comfort of knowing that your companion animal is in a loving home.
Animal shelters and volunteer foster families sometimes offer temporary foster care during times of crisis when sudden transfers and deployments occur. Speak with your base veterinarian or local animal shelter to find out if foster care programs are in place near your current base.
What If I Can No Longer Care For My Pet
During times of crisis, not everyone is able to keep his or her companion animal. If you are faced with this dilemma, speak with your base veterinarian or local animal shelter about finding another home for your pet. If you must put your animal up for adoption, make sure to provide shelter staff with your animal's medical history, a personality profile, complete with information about your animal's temperament, diet, likes and dislikes, history with other animals and children and prior training. To help you, sample personality profiles are available free of charge from The Ark Trust at (818) 501-2275 or www.arktrust.org.>
What If I'm Transferred And Want To Take My Pet?
As a member of the military, there is always the chance of a transfer. If you should receive such orders, start making your animal's arrangements as early as possible. These should include:
Health History Gather all pertinent information about your animal's health, including surgeries, vaccines and medications. If you are unable to find this information, contact your veterinarian for a copy of your animal's records.
Medical Supplies Ask your veterinarian to provide a 3-month supply of medications for your companion animal as well as written prescriptions for refills that you can present to any veterinarian.
Quarantine Requirements If you are transferred overseas, determine if the country where you will be based requires incoming animals to be quarantined. Quarantine periods can last anywhere from several days to several months and the pet owner typically incurs any costs for food, grooming and care. Your base veterinarian or the country's consulate should be able to inform you of all quarantine regulations and costs.
How Can I Prepare My Animal For Air Travel?
The Department of Defense (DOD) has strict policies regarding the transport of animals on military craft. Please contact your base veterinarian for more information.
If you are flying on commercial aircraft, contact the airline on which you'll be traveling to request their specific guidelines concerning vaccine, licensing and carrier size requirements. While some airlines allow companion animals in the cabin, others will require that your animal be placed in the cargo hold, so be prepared. Find nonstop flights to your destination to avoid the chance of your animal being accidentally misplaced during connections. Travel early in the morning or late in the evening during summer months or when flying to or from hot climates. Sedatives and tranquilizers are not advised since animals may have adverse reactions at high altitudes. Check with your veterinarian.
Regardless of who provides the transportation, your pet should always be kept in a sturdy and roomy carrier marked with your name, contact address, e-mail address and phone number. The carrier's lock should be tested prior to travel and as an additional precaution your pet should always wear a collar and I.D. tag with current information.
How Do I Locate A Veterinarian Overseas?
Although most military installations have veterinary facilities, you may be transferred to a base that does not offer such services. Prior to transfer, speak with your current base veterinarian about veterinary care available at your destination. There may also be humane organizations in the country where you are stationed that offer basic animal care services or veterinary references. Contact The Ark Trust at (818) 501-2275 for information concerning international welfare groups that may be able to help you.
Whatever you do, don't turn your animals loose on the street or on base with hopes that they will find a good home on their own. Animal abandonment is not only cruel, but a violation of military and state law. A life of suffering awaits any animal forced to survive on garbage, fend off attacks from wild animals, brave the elements or dodge cars. Remember, dogs, cats, birds and other domesticated on human love and care and can never survive on their own.