WASHINGTON - Moving in the military is tough. With loose ends to tie up, such as obtaining spouse employment, moving household goods, transferring schools, shipping vehicles and setting up child care, it can seem overwhelming.
Many families have questions on and are sometimes unprepared for what resources exist to help them move their pets.
It's imperative to plan for the pets as soon as you're notified of the next duty station. Although pet information for military families isn't consolidated at one central location, there are a few helpful places to check:
- Military veterinarians. The Army's Public Health Command's website has an interactive locator map, to contact the treatment facility for veterinarian services and a listing of requirements for that location.
- Shelter resources. Most communities have a government-run shelter enforcing animal law and educating on vital pet services such as spay/neuter, micro-chipping and lost and found. They offer volunteer opportunities and ways to advocate on behalf of animals. Many facilities have programs designed for the needs of military members.
- Newcomer information. Family service centers and your sponsor can be invaluable in navigating the details on moving with your pets. Bases' commercial guides may list shelters in the area, pet services such as grooming, boarding and dog walkers, plus if your sponsor is a pet owner they may have recommendations for services they know and trust.
- Meet-up groups and pet clubs. Many duty stations have breed-specific organizations and play groups. There are Facebook groups, meet-ups, and clubs for those interested in activities such as agility, obedience, conformation,
fly ball, and others. You may find them by searching your pet breed and the area.
- Deployment help. Organizations exist to help families when troops are deployed and are without family and friends to care for the pets. Dogs on Deployment and Guardian Angels for a Soldier's Pet fill this need and ensure that no military pet ends up in a shelter while service members are fulfilling military commitments.
Military moves can be less stressful and your time in your new location more enjoyable if you have take advantage of pet-friendly resources.
(Guest blogger Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly is the owner of Hawaii Military Pets, a volunteer online resource for military families in Hawaii to help with moving with pets in the military, boarding information and pet policies in state and federal governments. She partners with nonprofits that specialize in service members and their companion animals, such as Dogs on Deployment and Pets for Patriots.)