Military Pets: Animal Placement Options for Deployed Soldiers and Other Personnel

Members of the military may or may not be able to take their pets with them on overseas deployment. Be sure to check with your commander about housing arrangements in your new posting. The base veterinarian can help determine whether your pet will need vaccines or other care prior to moving. There is a wealth of information about transporting pets, quarantine rules in various countries, and other tips on PetTravel.com. A specific link on the site addresses all the specifics of taking your pet with you if you are assigned a PCS (permanent change of station).

If you are unable to take your pet with you on assignment, then consider the length of time you'll be gone, and decide whether foster care or permanent rehoming would be the best option for your pet.

Finding a foster home for your pet

If you decide on fostering, check with relatives, friends and others on or near your base to see if anyone is willing to foster your pet. Use every means at your disposal: Facebook pages, base bulletin boards, church bulletins. If you are trying to place a cat with a foster family, check with Operation Noble Foster. Other groups to contact for pet fostering:
Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet
Sugarland Ranch
Dogs On Deployment

We recommend that you create a foster care agreement for your pet. With a formal agreement in place, everyone involved knows what the expected level of care is for your pet. You can access a sample agreement on the HSUS website.

Rehoming your pet

If you need to rehome your pet permanently, we recommend that you make every effort to place your cat or dog directly into a new home. Rescue groups and shelters are stressful places for animals, and even sanctuaries such as Best Friends are only meant to be a temporary option for animals who have special considerations, such as health problems or behavioral issues.

Getting your pet ready for adoption. There are many strategies that you can use to find a new home for your pet. First, you'll need to get your pet ready for adoption. Here are some steps to help you do that:

  1. First, make sure your pet has had a thorough veterinary examination and is up-to-date on all vaccinations. A healthy pet will be easier to place.
  2. If your pet isn't spayed or neutered, have it done. We don't recommend placing an animal who has not been spayed/neutered into a new home. Doing so can result in unwanted litters, and neutered animals are less likely to show undesirable mating behaviors, such as mounting or howling. Puppies and kittens as young as eight weeks old can be spayed/neutered. For more information, talk to your veterinarian. If you need to find a source of low-cost spay/neuter surgery in your area, check the SPAYUSA website.
  3. Take several good-quality digital photos of your pet. Make sure your pet is well-groomed, is looking at the camera, and can be seen clearly in the photos. If you don't have a digital camera, use a cell phone camera or whatever you have available.
  4. Write a good adoption "ad" for your pet. For some tips on how to write an appealing ad, read How to Write Pet Profiles in the Best Friends resource library.
  5. When contacting individuals or groups about your pet, it will help tremendously if you have a nice flyer to hand out. At www.petbond.com, you can combine a photo of your pet and the adoption ad into a flyer by following the simple instructions. Plug in your contact information and the adoption ad, and upload a photo, and you'll have a very attractive flyer. You can save it as a digital file, which can be attached to emails and used for posting on social media websites, and you can also print out hard copies for posting around town.

Putting the word out. Once you have your pet ready for adoption, get creative and think of ways that you can spread the word. Here are some ideas:

  1. Post the flyer or information about your pet on social media sites, such as Facebook. Ask friends and family members to do the same.
  2. Put up flyers at your workplace, your church, your veterinarian's office - and other places where there's a public bulletin board.
  3. Contact all rescue groups and shelters in your area. Even if they can't take your pet, some groups will offer courtesy postings on their websites, or allow you to bring the animal to one of their adoption events. Some ways to find local rescue groups and shelters:
  4. Post information about your pet in the classifieds section on www.petbond.com.

Some people are hesitant to publicize information about their pet because they fear that people who would treat the pet unkindly will respond. Remember, you are in control of where your pet is placed. Don't be afraid to ask for references and follow up on them. For more information about how to protect the pet you are trying to place, please visit the Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project.

For more information on screening potential adopters and more ideas to help you rehome your pet, read Best Friends' guide How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets.