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Tips for Military Pet Owners Being Deployed

Military personnel who are deployed overseas will face decisions about the care of their pets.

This week's tipsheet includes information for military service pet owners who are called to duty overseas. The first section addresses military personnel who are taking pets overseas; the second offers suggestions for military personnel who are leaving pets in the care of someone else. A resource list appears at the end. Next week, we'll look at ways that civilians can help the pets of military personnel.

For military families that are being transferred overseas with Service personnel, sometimes pets can go along. The family pet offers some measure of comfort and stability at a critical time. Studies such as one conducted by Chumley, Gorski, Saxton, Granger and New in 1994 entitled "Companion Animal Attachment and Military Transfer" document how keeping pets and their military families together reduced emotional trauma and consequent personal and family problems associated with location transfers.

If you receive transfer orders and plan to take your pet, make arrangements as early as possible:

Health History: Gather all pertinent information about your animal's health, including surgeries, vaccines and medications. If you are unable to find this information, contact your veterinarian for a copy of your animal's records.

Medical Supplies: Ask your veterinarian to provide a 3-month supply of medications for your companion animal as well as written prescriptions for refills that you can present to any veterinarian.

Quarantine Requirements: If you are transferred overseas, determine if the country where you will be based requires incoming animals to be quarantined. Quarantine periods can last anywhere from several days to several months and the pet owner typically incurs any costs for food, grooming and care. Your base veterinarian or the country's consulate should be able to inform you of all quarantine regulations and costs.

How Can I Prepare My Animal For Air Travel? The Department of Defense has strict policies regarding the transport of animals on military craft. Please contact your base veterinarian.

If you are flying on commercial aircraft, contact the airline on which you will be traveling to request their specific guidelines concerning vaccine, licensing and carrier size requirements.

While some airlines allow companion animals in the cabin, others will require that your animal be placed in the cargo hold, so be prepared. Find nonstop flights to your destination to avoid the chance of your animal being accidentally misplaced during connections. Travel early in the morning or late in the evening during summer months or when flying to or from hot climates. Sedatives and tranquilizers are not advised since animals may have adverse reactions at high altitudes. Check with your veterinarian.

Regardless of who provides the transportation, your pet should always be kept in a sturdy and roomy carrier marked with your name, contact address, e-mail address and phone number. The carrier's lock should be tested prior to travel and as an additional precaution your pet should always wear a collar and I.D. tag with current information.

If you deploy and you will be leaving your pet in the care of family and friends, be sure to:

* Have a written agreement outlining the pet care arrangement. The agreement should cover important issues such as what will happen to your pet if the temporary caregiver can no longer care for him...who is liable for any damage done by your pet...what will happen if you are unable to reclaim your pet...and what happens if the pet is injured or dies while in the temporary home.

* Complete a cat personality profile or a dog personality profile to help your pet's caretaker understand your pet's particular needs. Including a list of her likes and dislikes, where she sleeps, what she eats, what medications she takes, and any other important information.
-date on all his vaccinations and provide your pet's caretaker with veterinary records.

* Outfit your pet with a collar and tag with the temporary caretaker's contact information. Also make sure your pet is wearing a rabies tag or license as required by law in your community.

* Leave contact information on how to reach your pet's veterinarian. Arrange who will pay for routine and emergency care. Consider leaving your credit card information with set dollar limits with your veterinarian so your pet can receive emergency care if needed. Make arrangements for what should happen if the care exceeds the set dollar limit.

* Provide money for food, toys, grooming, and other routine needs.

* Have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering your pet will make him healthier and make things easier for his temporary caregiver. You don't want your pet fathering unwanted litters or spraying furniture while in his temporary home. (Studies show that neutered dogs are also less likely to bite, roam, exhibit territorial aggression and other problems.)

 RESOURCES related to military pet owners and military pet fostering

http://www.4militaryfamilies.com/pets.htm

 https://www.netpets.org/netp/foster.php

 http://usmilitary.about.com

http://militarypets.org/

http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/military_pets.pdf

http://www.animalsheltering.org/resource_library/policies_and_guidelines/reporting_for_duty.html

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