Military Members and their Dogs

As a military member who has owned dogs throughout my career, as well as previously a military "brat", I see a disturbing trend throughout my travels.  It is a trend for military members to disregard the accepted "standard of care and affection" for animals. 

Often I've said that the military does what society expects of them.  We started the first "Don't ask, Don't Tell" policy, because society has begun to accept that theory.  We were the first to become racially "integrated" because society had just begun to "accept" those thoughts.  It hasn't always been easy, but the Military has attempted to stay on the "cutting edge" of the heartbeat of America.  But the one place we haven't kept up with that Heartbeat, is with our care for our pets.

My local community has a no-kill shelter called The Haven, Friends for Life.  They have, on average, over 500 unloved dogs and 200 unloved cats.  Just how many are dropped off from the military community can only be theorized, but the numbers are high. That is because the average military member has allowed themselves to become caught in a vicious cycle.  We buy/get pets at each installation, and when we get orders, we dump them.  That's right, Getting rid of a dog is simply DUMPING Them.  This is not acceptable in the Heartbeat of America.  It is NOT on the Cutting Edge of Society. 

So I have created this site with some information on perhaps how you can HELP with this situation.  Military members, in general, get a dog (or cat) "at every port", to satisfy their children's need for a pet.  When they receive ORDERS, that pet becomes a low priority, and is usually dropped off at a local shelter, or given to a friend.  It's my "contention" that these pets can go with you on 95% of your assignments.  I've heard alot of reasons why NOT to keep a pet, and I am going to answer them with reasons why you should.  I will also include a few links to help this information hit "home".



I've been receiving alot of emails lately, about this page.  It appears the Army has decided to make a change, and is teaching Animal Responsibility!  Congratulations to the Army!  Now we just need the rest of the branches of the Service to follow suit!

#1. It would be too stressful for the dog.

Wouldn't moving WITH you be less stressful than being dumped onto a new home? The dog loves you and trusts you. If you give her to someone else she becomes stressed and confused. Moving with her will stress her, but not nearly as bad as dumping her.

#2. It would be too stressful for the family.

Not so. I've discovered the fun of watching a pet investigate a new home can be hilarious, and DROP the stress level of moving.  It may be more work, but watching the antics can cause laughter, and help to lower the blood pressure.  Ask a doc about this sometime.

#3. It's too far.

I shipped my two dogs to Germany. It cost me about $500 to transport two Labradors across the ocean. It wasn't their easiest day in the world, but they not only survived, they were happy to be with us.

I have driven from Nebraska to Atlanta with them and all points in between as well. It's frustrating at times, it's true. But less frustrating than kids who constantly ask the question "Are we there yet?"

#4. Our new apartment won't allow pets.

Then why did you chose that one? Knowing you have a pet, it's your responsibility to see your pet is taken care of for their entire lives. That means 15-20 years. Not just until you move again.

People move every day. Military members move every 2-4 years (usually) and the SMART ones take their dogs with them. It provides continuity in their own family lives, as well as is the RIGHT and RESPONSIBLE thing to do.

#5. We'll be renting and it's hard to find a home that accepts a dog.

This is true. But it's something you should think about BEFORE purchasing a pup, not after. I rent myself. Have rented the entire 10 years of my current baby's life. Our present home is a 4 bedroom home in an elite neighborhood. It's not tough to convince renters to allow your dog there if you can prove you are a responsible dog owner. Oh, and the comment "Fleas like me more than my dogs, so there will be NO Fleas in the house" helps alot too.

#6:  It's too expensive.

Now this is difficult.  We all know that the military are not rich.  We are paid just what we are paid and no more.  BUT, this is something we have known since the beginning.  We knew this wasn't a "get rich scheme" when we signed up.  So now is the time to take responsibility and actually SAVE money before a move, so that we are prepared.  Think before you GET a dog, so that you are prepared for the costs of transporting and if necessary boarding a dog while moving.

#7:  My kids will get over loosing a dog.  They are adaptable.

Let me explain something here.  Military "Brats" ARE adaptable.  Probably more so than any other children of the world.  They learn to make friends faster than any other children.  They learn to get used to new homes every few years.  They learn to walk into a brand new school as the "New Kid" more times than they can count.  They learn to adjust to other countries and other cultures.  But why should they learn to GIVE UP LOVE more times than any other kid?  Sure, they'll recover.. sort of, but all this teaches them is a lack of respect for life.  The Military is here to Protect and Defend the lives of the United States of America.  If we teach our children that pets lives are not important, what are we teaching them?  Take a look AT THIS for food for thought.

#8:  But we will be living in Military Housing.

Well, I realize I rarely live "on base", but most bases I have seen allow pets, and allow you to put up a fence, as long as it is chain link, and looks presentable.  Granted, you will have to REMOVE that fence when you move.  Heck, maybe you can just put that SAME fence up at your next location.  It's true, once we lived in  a place in Germany where we could not have fences.  That meant dog walks alot.  People every day live in apartments with dogs and they take those dogs for walks.  There is no reason why we military can't do the same thing. 

#9:  But I might get deployed.  The world is unstable.

First off, this is something we all worry about.  Now, I have no children, but am well aware there are procedures in place to handle your children if you are deployed.  The same must occur for the pet.  Single members have the most difficult time with this, and you must consider this before acquiring a pet of any sort.  If there is noone to care for your pet, you should not consider OWNING a pet.  However, for members who are married, you should make sure your spouse is perfectly capable of handling the pet.  Often I see people say "well my wife can't handle the dog when I go TDY".  Hmm, not a good situation to be in!  What happens if you go to work and something happens, leaving your wife to handle the dog?  You must tackle THIS problem immediately.  It has nothing to do with an unstable world, and more to do with an unstable household.  Check into Obedience Training immediately.  your wife or spouse who has difficulty must be the one to take the pet thru the training courses.  Check into my "training tips" and in my "recommended reading" pages.

#10:  It's just too much trouble to take this dog.

Ahh, now we are into the meat of it, aren't we?  This is where it comes down to "Do I deserve to own a dog".  You see, if owning a dog is too much trouble to take with you, then you should NOT own a dog.  It's sort of like having pups.  If you aren't going to be a responsible breeder then you shouldn't breed your dog, and instead purchase the video that's available on "The Miracle of Birth".  The same can be said for "too much trouble".  If a dog (or cat) is too much trouble to go across country with you, then you have no right taking on the responsibility of dog ownership.  It's a tough job, owning a dog.  But just like the Military, which is a tough job, it comes with certain REQUIREMENTS.  Sort of like Boot Camp, you must learn what IS, and what IS NOT acceptable.  Ambivalence is not an acceptable excuse.

When we adopt a dog, we do so for it's life, not until it becomes inconvenient to us. If you do decide to give this puppy up, I'd recommend you not get another dog until you do not intend to move for the rest of your life.

My Name is Sam
Dog Survey -
Please take the time to fill this out!
Dumb reasons people dump their dogs
** Remember, if you find a reason YOU gave up your dog on this list, everyone ELSE who understands responsible dog ownership thinks you need serious education.  Please read with an open mind.

Would you like to add a dumb reason you've seen people dump their dogs?  Add it here:

Dumb Reasons People dump their dogs - Add it here

Our Pets....Our Commitment

An article about commitment to our pets.

There ARE exceptions to these rules.  You and I both know that a six month quarantine in England would KILL most dogs (thus the reason I never put in to go to England).  But most countries we serve in have no, or minimal quarantines, as they realize Americans DO vaccinate our dogs. 

When Travelling, you may wish to freeze their water in the water container, prior to putting it in the kennel with them. This helps to keep the water from spilling, and they can drink it as it melts, and allow them liquids during flights/travel.

Prior to travel in a kennel, you must teach the dog what a kennel is.  To see my page on kennel training, visit my Kennel Training Tips

Going to England?

We all know this is a difficult assignment with quarantines and such, and is difficult to decide what to do.  But I have searched the web for some of the quarantine "kennels" so you can see them, and help you make your decision.  There were rumors that the UK was going to decrease the quarantine, and they have, for many countries, but not for pets coming from the US.  Part of that is PROBABLY ( and this is just my opinion) is that most of the imported American dogs are military, and we have such a bad reputation in Europe for dog care.  So from what I can tell, there is still a six month quarantine required for all pets entering the UK from the US.  Please realize, however, that during the quarantine, you CAN visit your dog, even every day if you wish.  So choose a kennel that will be close to where you live so you can visit regularly. 

Galley Hill International Kennels & Cattery
The Hollies Quarantine Kennel (UK)
For the Cats

David Stevenson's Home Page,
read their story quarantine
Directory of UK Kennels
Four in Hand Kennels

Passport for Pets
An organization determined to change the laws.
Britain and the USA

Kingston Kennels

Their link on this site does NOT constitute of a recommendation by the web author.  However, if you find a link here and have had a bad experience with quarantining your animal with a particular source listed, let me know.

From the Navy and Air Force Space A FAQ's:

Question 17: Can my pet travel with me on a Space A flight?

Answer: No. DoD has reserved pet shipments for passengers in permanent change of station (PCS) status. Additionally, travel with pets would be difficult at best due to limited aircraft pet spaces, pet import documentation requirements, and the possibility of quarantine in the event of an aircraft divert.

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