As the soldiers pack up their belongings and prepare to ship out to foreign lands, many are left with the unsettling feeling and unanswered question of what to do with their pets while away at war.
With this in mind, Steve Albin, president of NetPets.org, created the Military Pets Foster Project, the first pet-fostering organization serving overseas military personnel. Caring for cats, dogs, birds and other pets, the nonprofit group was created shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Albin realized that many soldiers had to put their pets up for adoption or even put them to sleep while away at war. As a pet owner, he was appalled at what he learned because it meant that “to serve, you had to be willing to put your best friend to sleep,” he says.
Albin hopes to ease the minds of military personnel as much as possible by providing pets with stable, loving homes while the soldiers are away. This way, soldiers know they will be reunited with their pets upon returning home.
The program finds a match for the animals in suitable homes depending upon the animal’s temperament and the foster home itself. Military personnel are asked to provide as much monetary assistance as possible in regard to the food and medication for their pets.
For acceptance into the service, all animals must be spayed or neutered before or during the program. The only exceptions are in relation to show animals or those owned for breeding. Specifications for the pet’s needs must also be outlined along with the proper veterinary information to better serve the foster families in providing adequate care for the animals.
Since its creation, the Military Pets Foster Project has been endorsed by the Department of Defense and was even mentioned in a news briefing by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2003. The Project has also received praise from the Red Cross, the American Kennel Club, United Way, the Reserve Officers Association and several other organizations.
Albin really had no idea what he was getting himself into when he created the service for military personnel, but he’s very glad he did. With an average of seven to 15 foster placements every day, it has expanded to include all 50 states. They even have foster homes available in Canada, Asia and Europe. (Try running a search for Military Pets Foster Project on any search engine and be amazed at how many results there are.)
The Military Pets Foster Project is always looking for more foster homes and generously accepts any donations, whether corporate or personal, since the organization operates free-of-charge. Foster homes in the Houston area are few, so please do your best to help support our troops and their families in this ongoing effort. H