Group Finds Foster Homes for Deployed Troops’ Pets
By Army Sgt. Will Hill
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind., Aug. 20, 2009 Many programs help military members’ families during a deployment, but what about their four-legged friends?
Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, a nonprofit volunteer group, arranges foster care for the pets of deploying servicemembers. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Guardian Angels for Soldiers' Pet, a nonprofit organization made up of all volunteers, locates foster homes for the pets of servicemembers who are deployed, training or experiencing an emergency or financial hardship.
Linda Spurlin-Dominik, the group’s chief executive officer, said the group was formed in January 2005 after the founders learned that troops across the country had pets that needed a loving and safe home while their owners were deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other designated combat areas.
“Soldiers had no options with their pets and had to turn over their pet’s ownership to shelters and rescue groups across the country,” Spurlin-Dominik said. The organization now has about 800 potential foster homes and 55 foster pets, she added.
Additionally, the group lends support for emergency services such as transportation, boarding and veterinarian care, Spurlin-Dominik said.
' Pet and the Indiana state coordinator, said the group has every kind of pet.
“We have a majority of dogs and cats, but we have helped horses and birds,” Shively said. “Servicemembers consider their pets as kids or best friends, so to be able to assist them by getting their pets into a foster home so they do not have to surrender them to a shelter or a rescue organization is just absolutely great.”
Army Sgt. Donietta McPowell, a Frankfort, Ky.-native training here with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, said she would have used the program if her parents had been unable to provide a home for her pet.
“I had no idea programs like that existed. I will inform all my [fellow soldiers] back home,” McPowell said.
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Travis Rogers, a maintenance test pilot, also with the 147th Aviation Regiment, said he also would use the services if he had no one to turn to. “If I was single, I would differently have used the program,” he said.
Servicemembers, veterans or their families who need a safe home for their pets can request services either through the group’s Web site, http://www.guardinangelsforsoldierspet.org, or by calling 501-325-1591 to begin the process.
Once the owner is registered and a foster home has been selected, Spurlin-Dominik said, a written agreement is prepared for the pet owner, the foster home and a representative approved by the group to help reach agreement on the cost and duration of the pet’s stay with the foster home.
“The organization does not charge any fees, but the military pet owner will be responsible for any veterinarian bills and food cost for the pet, which would basically be the same if they were not deployed,” she explained, adding that some foster homes do not charge for pet food.
Once an agreement has been made, the foster home will take custody of the pets until the servicemember returns home.
(Army Sgt. Will Hill serves in the Camp Atterbury public affairs office.)