Military service members across the country are deployed on active duty missions every day. Many of these people have pets that need a caring, safe and loving homes and families to care for them while their owners are deployed around the world. Some may not be able to find someone to care for their pets while they are away, leaving them with the agonizing and painful decision to relinquish their beloved pets and pet ownership rights to an animal shelter or rescue group. They may never to see their pets again or know if they found a new good home.
My sister will soon be returning home after a six month deployment to Iraq with the US Air Force. A life-long animal lover, her four-legged family members include 5 dogs, 5 horses, 3 llamas, and a single barn cat. She, like so many other servicemen and women, had to spend lots of time making arrangements for her pets to be cared for while she was away. She is lucky enough to have friends and family to take on the responsibility. Several kind neighbors looked after the needs of the horses and llamas each day and made sure that the cat was fed, and our retired parents were able to take her two smallest dogs for the duration. Her three larger dogs were a bit more of a challenge. She wanted them to stay together, but a Lab, a Bulldog and a large mixed breed need some room to roam. Fortunately, she found the Canine Corps.
The Canine Corps provide a free, loving “home away from home” for dogs of Pennsylvania military personnel who are deployed to the Horn of Africa, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The founders of the Canine Corps believe that dogs deserve not to lose their best friend because their owner has been called to serve their country, and that a soldier deserves to know, during deployment, that their best friend is waiting safely for their return.
Guests of the Canine Corps facility reside in 200 or 400 sq ft furnished living PODS with private potty areas, heated floors to warm their paws on winter days, and compatible roommates with whom to share them. They have a 2500 sq ft fenced play area and five acres of walking trails. A crew of local volunteers donate love and free time each day to keep these dogs healthy and happy until their mom or dad comes home to them. As I write this article they have 13 military pets in residence. During my sister’s deployment they sent her frequent updates and photo slideshows about how her “kids” were doing. In most of the pics, the dogs seemed like they were having fun at summer camp as opposed to being in foster care! I’m sure they’ll be even happier to see their mom return home and to be running on their home turf again.
Organizations like the Canine Corps provide an invaluable service to military personnel. Other organizations provide similar assistance in either housing or helping soldiers to find foster homes for their pets while they are out of the country. Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pets helps find foster homes for dogs and cats across the country, and Operation Noble Foster provides assistance in finding foster homes for cats. Please contact one of these organizations if you would like to be considered as a foster, or if you’d like to help through the donation of time or money in support.
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