August 24th 2009 10:06 pm
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PERMISSION TO CROSS POST w/ credit to Casey Lomonaco, KPA CTP, Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training (www.rewardingbehaviors.com).
Regardless of your political views on the war in the Middle East, I believe we can all agree that the men and women who serve in our country's armed forces are courageous patriots and deserve the full support of those who they defend.
How can we as pet people help out the brave soldiers who have vowed to protect us? Consider fostering an animal for armed forces personnel serving overseas. Soldiers who have human families may be lucky enough to find that a caring relative will offer a place to live for a beloved pet while the soldier serves on active duty. Others are not so lucky, having no human family or no family members who are able/willing to bring one or more dogs and/or cats into their homes. These soldiers find themselves facing an incredibly difficult decision - what happens to a soldier's dog when he leaves for Iraq?
It is difficult enough to leave one's home for dangerous combat half a world a way. The world each soldier is entering into is foreign and dangerous, and each must say goodbye to the things that make his country worth defending - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For those of us who share our lives with animals, it is difficult to imagine how happiness can be pursued without them, and they are certainly a vital part of our lives. It is no different for the men and women in our armed forces. Many are placed into situations where the only apparent alternative is to turn their furry best friends over to an animal shelter. Most will pray that their dog finds a new family. Many of these prayers will go unanswered, and the dogs and cats of heroes end up as statistics; one of faceless millions who travels to the Rainbow Bridge at the end of a needle, victims of the devastation that is pet overpopulation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP What can you do to help these men and women? Consider opening your home as a foster home for a serviceman and servicewoman's companion animal. There are wonderful organizations which specialize specifically in finding foster homes for the pets (dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and a variety of other species) of military employees serving active duty.
OPERATION NOBLE FOSTER -
specializing in finding foster homes for cats belonging to servicemen and servicewomen
Operation Noble Foster specializes in finding temporary foster homes for cats belonging to military personnel. Check out their page "Basics of Fostering Cats for Military" for more information. Want to sign up and offer your home to a military kitty? Here is a link to the foster application
NetPets is different from Operation Noble Foster in that they do not place restrictions on the species of the foster animal in question. If you are interested in applying to be a foster parent for The MilitaryPetsFOSTER Project©, this link will bring you to their application for foster parents.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR FOSTER PARENTS
Do you have the room to bring another dog, cat, horse, chicken, or sheep into your life?
Do you have the finances? These organizations are volunteer run and are charitable organizations - you will likely be responsible for the veterinary bills, food, and other expenses associated with the animal's care while it lives in your home.
Concerned about how to introduce your foster pet to your existing household pets? If you need a little guidance, do not hesitate to ask a behavioral professional for help (www.greatdogtrainers.com).
IF YOU CANNOT FOSTER, DONATE OR VOLUNTEER! You may not be able to foster for whatever reason, but that doesn't mean you are unable to help the effort. Both organizations accept tax-deductible donations on their websites.
Alternatively, if you have a well-visited website, consider writing an article about these programs, or post one of the organizations' banners on your websites to bring much-needed recognition to the plight of military pets needing foster homes.
If you are already involved with rescues, Operation Noble Foster offers the following link for tips on how you can help both with military cat rescue and provides contact information for individuals who can help if your rescue accepts other species of pets.
IF YOU ARE A SERVICEMAN OR SERVICEWOMEN LOOKING FOR A FOSTER HOME FOR YOUR BEST FRIEND First, let me extend a heartfelt and deep gratitude to you for your willingness to sacrifice, putting it all on the line, to defend a nation who you believe in. One sacrifice I hope none of you will ever have to make is that of a safe homecoming, welcomed warmly by those you love the most; those who have whispered countless prayers in your name during your absence, and those whose tails may have wagged less since you departed. All of you deserve to come home to the same thumping tail wag or enthusiastic kitty "mrao" that you left behind when you responded to the call of duty.
FINDING A FOSTER HOME FOR YOUR MILITARY KITTY Here is Operation Noble Foster's Basic Information for Military Personnel. From their website, you can also find suggested foster contracts (which can be modified to suit the needs of both soldier and foster parent). You will be able to view applications from potential foster parents, contact references, ask any questions you might have to find the right home for your cat. While you are keeping your country safe, a kitty owner with a big heart might just open her home and keep your cat safe in return - contact Operation Noble Foster today to explore foster homes and opportunities for your favorite feline.
FINDING A FOSTER HOME FOR ALL OTHER MILITARY PETS If you are a soldier looking for a foster home for your pets (and you do not have kitties), visit the home page for MilitaryPetsFOSTER Project and scroll down until you see the application for military personnel.
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