Category Archives: PCS Preparation

SUMMER ROUND UP II – Reunions, Virtual 5K & Abigail


PCS & Pet Reunion Success Stories / A Virtual 5K Race to Benefit Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. …PLUS AN UPDATE ON “BONNETS FOR ABIGAIL!”


Dogs on Deployment understands that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways. We aim to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. Dogs on Deployment’s military-pet foster network reunites as many military families with their pets as possible, and the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program helps with the financial costs.

Pet Chit Success Stories Keep Military Members & Pets Together

“Captain Jones”

“Captain” Jones, at your service.

Caitlin Jones, an E-3 in the US Marine Corps, served and lived with her family in Okinawa, Japan. They have enjoyed the love and company of their Great Dane, “Captain,” since he was a puppy. “He is a huge part of our family, no pun intended,” said Caitlin. The Jones family was expecting their next PCS in 2018, but when Caitlain’s spouse needed to be medically discharged from service, they were left financially unprepared for the cost of suddenly flying Captain back to the United States as unaccompanied cargo. A Pet Chit was granted to the Jones family to help with expenses.


After Captain safely returned to his family, Caitlin said, “thank you Dogs on Deployment – we appreciate your consideration and help with Captain’s flight!”



 “Smeagles” Scherrer

After seven years of service in Okinawa, Japan, Joshua Scherrer, E-6, US Coast Guard, received orders to PCS to Frederick, Maryland this summer. Josh and his wife prepared to travel back to the states with their three rescue pets – a dog and two cats. Their military chartered flight back home allowed for the two cats to return with the Scherrer family, but there was no space left for their dog, “Smeagles.”

The adorable Smeagles is once again a happy camper.

It was a stressful time said Josh, noting that “when we got to Seattle, WA, we had to purchase a car so we could drive cross country for our new PCS. Then I was informed that we would need to purchase new housing appliances upon arrival in Maryland. Almost Home Pet Transportation recommended that I reach out to Dogs on Deployment to apply for help with the cost of Smeagles’ transport.” A Pet Chit was granted to the Scherrer family to help with the expense.


After Smeagles was reunited with the rest of the family, Josh told us “all went well with the pets! Thank you to the organization, and we’re happy to be featured in the Dogs on Deployment blog – sharing our story is the least we can do for you all. We are all very grateful!”


Stella Thornborrow

“Stella!” How cute is she?!

Alexander Thornborrow, E-4, US Army, received orders to PCS to Germany, and with his wife, Kelly, planned to bring their rescue dog, Stella with them. Said Alex previously, “Stella has been through a lot, and is a huge member of our family. But my wife’s student loans and other expenses made the cost of shipping our dog a hardship.” The Thornborrow family applied for financial assistance and were granted a Pet Chit.

Stella finally arrives in Germany to reunite with dad, Alex.


Kelly Thornborrow told Dogs on Deployment, “Stella made it to Germany despite some paperwork confusion. She was happily reunited with us and has settled into life in Germany. We are so grateful for the Pet Chit, it helped us all begin our new life here together as a family! Being with our dog again has made our transition in a new country so much easier – we will always hold a special place in our hearts for Dogs on Deployment. Thanks again!!”


Willow Mata

Sunnie Mata, E-5, US Air Force, received orders to PCS to Germany, and was looking forward to making the move with her son and their dog, Willow. In preparation for their new life, Sunnie began saving all she could in the hopes of buying a house off base with a big yard for Willow.


The Mata Family


“Willow is not just a dog, she is a family member,” said Sunnie. “I am a single parent to a five-year old boy, and we searched for the perfect dog to join our family. When we first saw Willow, it was instant love – she fits in so well with us!”




Best buddies.


Who is photo-bombing who in this picture?

Willow’s size exceeded the weight limit for the military flight to Germany, so the Mata family had to make other arrangements. Dogs on Deployment granted Sunnie a Pet Chit so that Willow could join them in Germany and keep a smile on her son’s face. Afterwards, Sunnie told Dogs on Deployment, “Everything is going as planned so far. We couldn’t have done it without your help, and are so grateful. Thank you!”


Dogs on Deployment’s First Annual 5K Pet & Family Trot

Registration has begun for Dogs on Deployment’s First Annual Pet and Family Trot (PFT), a “virtual race” that will benefit our non-profit organization’s critical mission of providing a robust network for military members to find volunteers willing to care for their pets while they’re away serving our country. Register now, and run through August 31st to participate!

A virtual race is a race that can be ran at any location. You can walk, use the treadmill, run outside or participate in another race. You can run your race at your pace wherever you like, however you’d like.

Some FAQs About the First Annual (PFT)

How does a virtual race work? A virtual race can be done at any venue that you wish. You can walk, jog, skip or run the distance of your choice. You can complete your race at the gym on a treadmill, a practice run in town, a stroll in the park, or another local racing event. The Dogs on Deployment PFT believes in the honor system so no proof is required for your race, but it would be awesome if you could upload pictures and tell us about your experience on our Facebook page. All race participants, human and canine, will be about to download a race bib and will be mailed a finisher’s medal.

Why should I do a virtual race? The short answer would be because they are cool! If you need more convincing, the top 3 reasons would include:

  • The chance to add a really cool medal to your collection (and a really cool collar charm for your pup!).
  • Complete control over your schedule. Complete the race on your own time, at your own venue. No travel expenses, no hassle with parking, no waking up early (unless you want to!).
  • An opportunity to support a great cause. Proceeds from the 5K will benefit Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistant Program. These Pet Chits help to provide financial assistance to qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need. It is no surprise that a military lifestyle can be challenging on an individual and family, and an unexpected pet expense may cause undue stress before an upcoming service commitment.



Who can participate? Everybody and anybody! There is no age limit and there are no restrictions. So run, jog, walk, crawl, run alone, run in a group, run with your pet, bike, hike, it doesn’t matter. Just get out there and get moving!

Can I complete the race with a group? Of course! You can register for the 5k as an individual or as part of a team!

Do the medals come with a ribbon? Yes! Every medal will come with a ribbon!🏅

When you register yourself and your pet for the trot/race you will both receive a finisher’s medal. Your dog can proudly wear the pet medallion on their collar.

When will my medal ship? Medals will be ready to ship on August 23rd, so they will come your way once you have completed the PFT! We will keep you posted if they will ship any sooner (fingers and paws crossed).

We can’t wait to see you hit the pavement! Lace up your 👟, grab your 🐕 leash and let’s go!🐾 Still have questions? Email us today at and we will answer any questions you have.


Bonnets for Abigail Updates

“Bonnets for Abigail” supports the mission of Dogs on Deployment. (See link to her story by clicking here.) We told you in a recent blog post of sweet Abigail, a dog abused and left for dead, who was rescued, rehabilitated and who went on to be an international spokes-dog, helping raise awareness to end dog fighting. Abigail is a beacon of hope, and love.


Bonnets, bonnets. bonnets!

Abigail is nominated for the 2017 American Humane’s Emerging Hero Dog Award, and has selected Dogs on Deployment as her charity partner. She already won Round One of the competition – congratulations Abby! As a result, “Bonnets for Abigail” donated $2500.00 to Dogs on Deployment. If Abigail wins top honors and takes home the title of 2017 American Hero Dog, an additional $5,000 will be awarded to Dogs on Deployment – everybody wins!!


We need your daily votes to show your support for Abigail. Click here once every day now through August 30, and vote for Abigail as top dog. Help Dogs on Deployment and help Abigail to be an ambassador, teacher and hero dog for all!


Now life is just a walk in the park for Abigail!

Abigail has Found Fur-Ever Love!

Last but not least, we happily report that Abigail has been adopted into her fur-ever home. She recently joined her mother, father and fur-sister (also a rescued pit-mix) in their digs, and everyone has been enjoying the Florida sunshine, and one another.

The adventures of “Bonnets for Abigail” can be seen on Facebook every day (click here to check it out), where sweet Abigail now has a loyal following of about 19,000 followers. That’s one popular pooch!

Good luck Abigail – we’ll see you and your bonnets on the red carpet for the awards show!!


Summer Round Up: Pet Boarding, PCS & Pet Reunion Success


People Helping One Another, One Paw at a Time

Everyone at Dogs on Deployment voluntarily gives of their time and talents as a way of saying “thank you” to the many U.S. military service men and women who temporarily part with their pets when duty calls.

Our nationwide network of volunteers includes pet boarders and foster pet parents whose participation is critical to Dogs on Deployment’s success. This community of people continues to grow and open their homes and hearts to temporarily care for pets – like dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. The result is peace of mind for the military pet owner. We are grateful to them all, and always happy to share good news and success stories when they are brought to our attention!

Pet Boarding: Leppla Family Saves the Day for a Very Grateful Mark Howard

The care and cooperation of boarders Kevin and Margaret Leppla left Mark Howards very grateful. He wanted to recognize and thank them publicly. The Leppla family recently cared for both of Mark’s dogs, one being a Labrador Retriever and the other, a Jack Russell Terrier.


DoD volunteer boarder, Kevin Leppla relaxes with Capone, a 2 ½-year-old, male Jack Russell Terrier, and Nip, a 2 ½-year-old, female Labrador Retriever.

Mark Howard, of the U.S. Army, told Dogs on Deployment, “initially, I had loads of inquiries for my Lab, but only three for my Jack Russell because of the patience and care it can sometimes take to look after this high-energy breed. This was my first time using the organization and I was a little hesitant, especially since I was unable to properly meet with the boarders.” Potential Dogs on Deployment boarders and their pets usually meet face-to-face with military members and their pets before the deal is sealed. Sometimes, like in Mark’s case, time constraints or other deployment factors get in the way of “proper” introductions.

Since Mark was unable to go through the typical interviews before boarding his dogs, he said, “I was a little nervous and worried about how both dogs would be, but agreed to it. “As it turns out, Kevin and Margaret Leppla, from Yelm, Washington stepped up, and were both extremely amazing taking care of both of dogs while I was deployed! They even included them in family reunions and activities. I believe the Leppla family went above and beyond, treating my dogs as if they were their own, and feel they deserve to be recognized.”


Capone and Nip explore, lakeside with Kevin.

“It was a perfect match from the beginning,” said Mark. While boarding with the Leppla family on a small farm, Mark’s dogs Capone and Nip got to enjoy the beautiful property, with lots of room and space to run and play. “Kevin and Margaret were wonderful. They treated my dogs like family and it shows. The dogs have gone along on family BBQ outings in the wood lines, lakes…, just about anywhere you could think of. And they always kept me informed on everything going on, sending pictures and videos all the time!”


Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program – Less Stress for PCS

Dogs on Deployment understands that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways. DoD aims to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. Dogs on Deployment’s military-pet foster network reunites as many military families with their pets as possible, and the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program helps with the financial costs.

“Thank you so much,” said Jonathan Kamer, U.S.M.C., E-5, and wife Mae, after they were reunited with their dogs. Jonathan recently received a 3-year PCS to Okinawa, Japan.

The Kamer family reunites.

“Our two dogs are not just pets, they are our family. We have always committed to staying together, no matter what difficult circumstances we were going through.” That’s why the Kamers were so disappointed when financial constraints initially kept them separated from their dogs. Dogs Chevy and Saver were only temporarily able to stay with family in the U.S., and that’s when Jonathan reached out to the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. He and his wife patiently waited for a Pet Chit to be granted, but every day it became a little more heartbreaking while they watched other families enjoying their own dogs. “It was unimaginable to think we could be apart from our dogs for three years,” said Jonathan. “You never know what could happen within that period.”

The adorable Chevy and Saver Kamer.

The Kamers’ prayers were answered when they were granted a Pet Chit for $2200. It helped cover transportation expenses for dogs Saver, a male tan boxer, and Chevy, a female boxer-mix to be flown to Okinawa. The dogs arrived safely and the entire Kamer family was reunited.

Jonathan Kamer relaxes with the help of dogs, Saver and Chevy.



“We feel so blessed by Dogs on Deployment. It is a wonderful and helpful organization that has enabled us all to be together as a family once again,” added Jonathan. “Thank you so much!”






Recent Reunions

While voluntarily serving a one-year tour in South Korea without his family, Steve Zavala, U.S. Army, E-6 of Alaska, adopted a cat from the on-base pet shelter. He eventually learned he and his family would have to PCS to England, and wanted to keep his family and his newest companion Jack the cat all together. The Zavala family received a Pet Chit to help transport Jack, and are extremely grateful.

Jack cuddles with his big brother and sister from the Zavala family.



Richard Hager III, U.S.M.C., E-5 of North Carolina, received PCS to Japan. He and his wife and children consider their pets a part of the family. “Our dogs, Maggie and Marley are very good with our children and have helped them grow into the pet lovers that they are today,” said Richard. “The dogs have been in our family for the past 9 and 7 years respectively.”

The family received a Pet Chit to help transport the dogs.

The Hager family baby shown sharing a special moment with Maggie the dog.



Joshua Broadie, U.S.A.F., E-4 of Oklahoma, received PCS to Germany. He and his wife previously got an emotional support dog for their 7-year-old daughter to help with her panic attacks. Space limitations originally prohibited the dog from traveling overseas to be with his family. Said Joshua, “Our dog is important to my daughter and to us. I could not and would not leave her behind.”

The family was grateful to Dogs on Deployment when they received a Pet Chit to help transport the dog for a family reunion.

Shown here is the Broadie’s daughter, together again with her therapy dog, Ruder.












Grayson Bright, U.S.C.G, E-5 of Kentucky, previously received PCS to Japan and at first, left his cat, Marshmallow in the loving care of temporary DoD boarder, Mary Mortenson. After patiently waiting, Grayson will soon be happily reunited with his cat, since he received a Pet Chit to help transport her overseas.

This stunning cat, Marshmallow will soon be reunited with owner, Grayson Bright.


Pet Chits Can Help with Emergency Veterinary Treatment & Care

Dogs on Deployment understands the financial burden of pet care can take a large financial toll on a military family when other unexpected life events arise. Pet Chits are also granted to military members to help offset the costs associated with emergency or routine veterinary pet care, including spay and neuter, which Dogs on Deployment is a strong advocate of.


Mark Daniels, U.S.M.C. E-6, of CA and his wife Jessica received financial assistance for the spay of their beautiful kitty Phasma, who was helped through the Pet Chit program. They were very thankful to Dogs on Deployment!







Robert Hattan, U.S. Army E-6, of LA told us that his dog, sweet Hazel “has become family to me!” He adopted her after she was abandoned by her owners, and only wants to do the right thing by her. Robert received financial assistance to help with costs of Hazel’s vaccinations.








Michael Craddock, U.S.M.C. E-5, of CA and his family recognize the importance of spaying and neutering pets. “We want to be responsible pet owners and take care of Jaxson’s neutering so he isn’t able to procreate with any of the nearby dogs.”


Dogs on Deployment lent a hand/paw with the costs of the dog’s procedure. Adorable Jaxson smiled for the camera after finding out he would benefit from the Pet Chit program.





Pet Chit Success Story: Eevee is Back with her Daddy!

Ian adopted Eevee in May of 2014 when a military couple needed someone to take her because of an impending deployment. It was love at first sight, when he met her at a park near his station at Wright Patterson AFB. They have been close companions ever since.

12106940_10152937211491706_3254353600275523873_nBefore Ian met Eevee, he struggled with high levels of stress from his job. Like many of our soldiers, his sacrifices for our country were taking a toll on him, and he was finding it more and more difficult to recover. Once Eevee came into his life, Ian found it easier to cope with the demands that were placed on him.

He recalls, “since I have had Eevee in my life, she [has] help[ed] me actually get to sleep. She wakes me up from nightmares if and when I have them, and provides me with the comfort I need. Not to mention her silly smile and personality whenever I am down. She has been there for me for over a year now, and means the world to me.”

While Ian was stationed at Wright Patterson AFB, he coincidentally met the Midwest Dogs on Deployment coordinator. He was walking out of the commissary with dog food when they just happened to cross paths. They spoke for a few minutes and the coordinator wished Ian luck with his impending PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and gave him his DoD card.

Ian had orders to Germany. He emphasized how PCSing is one of the most hectic and stressful times in a service member’s career. When being shipped overseas for an extended tour, it can put a family into even more distress.

During his out-processing, Ian did not become aware of the quarantine procedures for shipping Eevee to Germany, until it was too late for him to handle it himself, or with the military’s help.

Soon, Ian was overseas, and distraught at the idea of having to give Eevee up forever. Then, he remembered Dogs on Deployment. He quickly contacted the Alabama chapter for help.

12144738_871293966273195_7940804953309957591_nOnce Ian signed up on the website and had contacted his local chapter, Dogs on Deployment started working to help him. They encouraged him to sign up for a Pet Chit to get financial assistance to help offset the cost of sending Eevee overseas.

In the meantime, Larabeth, a local DoD boarder was able to board Eevee for the two weeks it would take to get her ready to leave. Eevee came to stay with Larabeth, and her dog, Elsa. After their initial meeting, they got along great, and had a blast. During her stay, Eevee also got to meet other dogs, and played at the local park.

Larabeth says that “she was a delightful houseguest, and when it was time for her to go, it was a bittersweet goodbye.”

Once he applied for a Pet Chit, DoD granted him $1500 toward her trip. However, after Ian got a bit more information, regarding the quarantine rules and travel costs, he discovered that the cost of Eevee’s trip was going to be more expensive than he originally anticipated. The Local Alabama Chapter of Dogs on Deployment came to the rescue, raising additional money to help support the original $1,500 grant.

The community rose to the occasion. Between combined donations from booths at Tractor Supply Company’s Pet Appreciation Event, and a quilt raffled off at the Dog Days (Nights Too!) event, the Alabama chapter was able to raise another $300 for Eevee’s travel expenses.
eevee and doctor stipes2For anyone unaware, sending a dog overseas is an arduous and tedious process. Dr. Stipes, at Oak View Animal Hospital, carefully handled the paperwork to make sure that everything was in order and handled within the 48-hour time frame allotted, prior to Eevee’s transport.

Thanks to Dr. Stipes’ hard work, and Larabeth’s trip to the USDA office to get the papers endorsed, the overseas customs process went smoothly. And now, Eevee has safely arrived to Germany to be with Ian!

Larabeth says, “even though it was a very quick board, it was satisfying to know I helped Eevee be able to stay with her ‘forever family’. I will always love her, and I am looking forward to helping someone else the next time I am able!”

Ian’s advice to other military pet parents is, “to be as proactive as possible when PCSing with a pet. Ask questions as early as you can and seek out the information. The PCS process is arduous and if you don’t actively seek it, information can be left out by mistake. The consequences of not doing so can be detrimental to your pet and yourself. If something does happen, I highly recommend contacting Dogs on Deployment. You might be surprised at how much they may be able to assist you.”

This story is brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart, we love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

“At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with  in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.


Nila: Another Successful Pet Chit!

IMG_5142 copyFor anyone in the service for any length of time, moving can become second nature. Planning a military move becomes, almost: easy. From scheduling movers, to planning for kids to start school in a new town, even shipping cars, we can handle these major life-events every few years.

However, when orders come down for an overseas move, things can get a little more complicated, especially when pets are involved. Boarding costs, quarantine rules and associated travel expenses can skyrocket.

IMG_5459 copyIt’s unquestionable that our pets are part of our families. No one would argue to leave our son or daughter behind because of quarantine regulations, or how difficult it might be to travel with a baby; so, we jump through the difficult hoops necessary to get our pets with us overseas, just like our children. Just such a complex situation arose for Melanie, Nila’s doggie-mom.

Melanie’s family recently received orders to Okinawa, and as they prepared to move overseas, they discovered that they would be unable to, immediately, take Nila with them. Thankfully, Melanie’s mother was able to temporarily board their pup, while they worked out the paperwork, to get her to Japan, to join the family.

IMG_5456 copyAfter some research, Melanie discovered that this would not be an easy feat; Nila is a special needs dog. She needs seizure medication, which means that someone needs to be with her at all times, ready to administer medication. This means that each step of Nila’s journey would be more expensive; normally, dogs can fly beneath the plane, if temperature permits this safely. Nila’s journey costs were mounting to approximately $1,900.

This is when Melanie reached out to Dogs on Deployment and applied for a Pet Chit. The Pet Chit Program is available to people to help with emergency pet-related expenses, including medical expenses, or situations like Nila’s.
Melanie said, “I couldn’t stop thinking about how confused and sad Nila must have felt that her family left and didn’t take her with them. How do you explain to a dog [that] you aren’t abandoning her; it’s only goodbye for a little while?”

The Pet Chit was the key to getting Nila to Japan. After many months, and some long flights, Nila was going to be back with her family.

“Picking her up from the airport was more exciting than Christmas morning,” said Melanie. “Nila was so happy [that] her whole body was wagging with excitement.”

IMG_5457 copyThis story is brought to you by PetSmart: We are proud to support our veterans and their pets. At PetSmart, we love pets and we believe pets make us better people. PetSmart will be the trusted partner to pet parents and pets in every moment of their lives.

“At PetSmart, we believe in supporting organizations that make communities vibrant and strong” said Jennifer LaPlante, district leader for PetSmart. “We’re proud to partner with  in an effort to enrich the lives of more people through the power of pets.


Samson Needs Your Help!

For pet parents, being separated from our companions is almost unbearable. For military pet parents, it sometimes goes with the territory. Army families like Robyn Nguyen’s are no strangers to this phenomena, and how new orders, especially orders to an overseas location, don’t just uproot the military member, but his or her family, and the pet.

For pets, it’s especially complicated, involving quarantine rules that vary by country, expensive shipping costs, and potentially being left behind. The Nguyen’s dog, Samson, got caught in just such a complex situation, and thankfully, Dogs on Deployment was able to help out.

Samson 3
Samson, looking handsome!

The Nguyens were used to being stationed overseas, and their lab, Samson, was a seasoned international pup too; in fact, they’d gotten Samson when they were stationed in Heidelberg Germany. Strangely enough, Samson was born the day that they arrived in Germany, and they added him to their family six weeks later. He’s been with them ever since; now five years old, he’s more than endeared himself to the Nguyens. Robyn says, “to us, Samson is family,” and that “he is pretty much one of our children.”

In 2009, it was easy enough to get Samson from Germany to the States. Shipping costs were relatively inexpensive then, compared to now. They’ve enjoyed having Samson with them, of course. Robyn says that he’s a “great protector” and when “times are rough, he’s a comfort” and good for a cuddle.

Samson: from little pup, to cherished family member
Samson: from little pup, to cherished family member

It got complicated for the family in 2014, when orders arrived, sending them to Okinawa. Shipping Samson to Japan was cost-prohibitive for the family, which had since expanded to include a child. Thankfully for the Nguyen’s, a family member in Texas was able to step in and take care of Samson for them, while they were gone, so they wouldn’t have to give up their beloved dog. They planned to leave Samson behind, and carefully save up the money to have him shipped over, as soon as possible.

Still, relief didn’t last long. An unexpected hardship in Texas meant that Samson’s stay there had to be cut very short, leaving the Nguyen’s with no one to care for him in their absence, and few options for getting him to Okinawa. Robyn was undeterred; she says that she was willing to sell their possessions to gather up enough money to get Samson to Japan. Trying to figure out secondary foster situations, she said, “I broke down in tears,” and “It’s time for him to come home!”

In starting the process of figuring out how to get Samson home, Robyn found Sarah’s Pet Paradise and Transportation, and Doggie’s Inc., two animal welfare organizations with ties to Okinawa, and organizations that are familiar with Dogs on Deployment. Because they knew of us, they were able to recommend that she apply for a Pet Chit, to help get the money to get transportation costs covered for Samson.

Our pets aren part of our military families!
Samson says: Our pets aren part of our military families!

Robyn Says, “I had heard of Dogs on Deployment before, but I thought that they only did boarding.” When she found out about the Pet Chit, she applied right away, and says, “It was pretty easy. I was definitely surprised. Even with the time difference, they were quick to respond.”

Dogs on Deployment is working hard to get Samson home quickly for the Nguyens. “We are just so appreciative of the help that my family and DOD Pet Chit has done for our family.”

Now, Samson and the Nguyens need your help. Every donation helps get him back to his family as quickly as possible. Please visit the donation page, and select “Help Samson get Home” from the pull down menu to direct your money to this cause.

Pets a luxury? NO! Pets are part of the Family!

5-day-or-less Quarantine Requirements:

  • A pet must have had at least two rabies vaccinations, at least 31 days apart, with the second vaccination being given at least 90 days prior to the pet’s arrival in Hawaii. This must be documented on a health record from the pet’s veterinarian. (Pets arriving in Hawaii less than 90 days after the 2nd vaccination must enter quarantine for the remainder of the 90 days.)
  • The pet must have a working microchip implanted by a vet prior to arrival.
  • The pet must pass an OIE-FAVN rabies blood test done at an approved lab, with results, including pet’s microchip number being sent directly to Hawaii.
  • The pet must undergo a 120-day waiting period after passing the OIE-FAVN test, prior to entering Hawaii. (Pets arriving in Hawaii before the 120th day must enter quarantine for the remainder of the 120 days.)
  • Dogs and cats must be treated for parasites with Fipronil (Frontline® or K-9 Advantix®) during the 14 days prior to arrival. (Must be documented on pet’s health record.)

Animals meeting all the 5-day-or-less quarantine requirements whose required documentation (Notarized Dog/Cat Import Form AQS-278, negative rabies blood test results, two rabies vaccine certificates, vet’s health certificate showing treatment for parasites, plus payment of $165) are is sent to the Rabies Quarantine Branch 10-days prior to arrival, and will be released to their owners at the airport. If pets are traveling in advance, owners may pick them up (or have a designated agent do so) within one to five days for an additional $59.

Animals meeting all the requirements except for the full 90-day waiting period after the 2nd rabies vaccination will stay in quarantine until the waiting period is complete, at an additional charge of $14.30/day. Pets meeting all requirements except for the full 120-day waiting period after the negative OIE-FAVN rabies blood test will stay in quarantine until the waiting period is complete, at an additional charge of $14.30/day. Pets failing to meet any one of the other requirements (two appropriately spaced rabies vaccinations, working microchip, and negative OIE-FAVN blood test) undergo the 120-day quarantine at the Honolulu Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility at a cost of $1,080 per animal.

Experienced service personnel know that station changes are a routine part of life with a military career. But when military pet owners receive orders, moving them outside the continental United States, they soon discover that their move will be far from routine. That’s what happened when Ryan received notification of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) from Georgia to Hawaii in the spring of 2014. Ryan’s family had heard tales of the difficult and expensive process to relocate pets overseas, so Ryan made every effort to get an assignment on the mainland, but his efforts were to no avail. In the end, Ryan, and his wife, Reese would have only a short time to prepare for the move that would take the young family thousands of miles across land and sea, severely straining their finances in the process.

An overseas PCS can be difficult because the new destination often has rigid animal importation rules. When the PCS to Hawaii was final, Ryan and Reese immediately began saving money to pay for the move and researching Hawaii’s animal importation regulations. Fortunately, their four dogs: Hannie, Lola and Bellini, all English Mastiffs; and Pirate, a Chihuahua, are breeds/species that are allowed to enter Hawaii. Certain animals, that are considered pets by many, such as hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, and geckos, are prohibited from entering the Aloha State. Non-domestic dogs and cats, as well as hybrids of these breeds, are also prohibited.

Being the only state in the US that has never had an outbreak of rabies, Hawaii has restrictive rules in place to keep the disease off the island. In order to ensure that pets entering the state are not infected with rabies, dogs, cats, and other carnivores must go through one of two quarantine programs upon entry into Hawaii: the five-day-or-less rabies quarantine, or the 120-day rabies quarantine.

Ryan and his wife immediately completed the dogs’ required vaccinations and blood work. Unfortunately, because their new duty location was determined late in the process, Reese and Ryan discovered they could not pursue the lower cost 5-day-or-less quarantine program. There just was not enough time to complete the 120-day post-blood-test waiting period.

Faced with the high cost of quarantine at the Honolulu Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility, they examined their finances and continued to save carefully. Moving to Hawaii is expensive, even without the pet quarantine. Transportation costs to fly the four dogs from the mainland to Hawaii, plus crates for them to fly in totaled $3,100. Nevertheless, they scrimped and saved, ultimately accumulating enough money to pay the quarantine charges for all four of their beloved pooches prior to departure.

At least, they thought they would have enough; that is, until they arrived in Hawaii. It was at this point that a series of unforeseen, ill-timed financial mishaps upset the family’s best laid plans.

Like all military personnel who move overseas from the continental US, they qualified for weekly Temporary Living Allowances (TLAs), which reimburses families for hotel charges and meals before they are settled in new housing. Typically, when a family relocates, they are able to check in to a hotel, then pay the hotel bill after receiving the TLA payment. Not so this time. Their hotel required payment up front, which was unexpected.

To make matters worse, there were problems with the TLA vouchers. Not just one problem but repeated problems, such as vouchers being misplaced after submission and being rejected erroneously. To add insult to injury, the cost of living adjustment that was supposed to be added to Ryan’s paycheck was also delayed. Ultimately, Reese and Ryan found themselves still waiting to be reimbursed for thousands of dollars owed to them, many weeks later, all the while feeling the pinch of the approximately 30% higher cost of living on Hawaii versus the mainland.

Understandably, at this point the family was low on resources. When money was needed for necessities, Ryan and Reese were forced to tap the funds they had set aside for the dogs’ quarantine fees. As the end of the quarantine period approached, without the arrival of the TLAs, and with only enough cash to claim one of their four dogs, the Singletons Reese and Ryan began a desperate search for the money to pay the remaining balance. Payment of the fees in full would be the only way to get the other three dogs released, and back to the loving family that missed them so much.

Enter Dogs on Deployment (DoD): a top-rated organization that assists military personnel with pet care during deployment and relocation. Ryan and Reese contacted Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder of DoD regarding the organization’s Pet Chit Program*, which provides financial assistance to qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need.

To date, Dogs on Deployment has awarded over $20,000 in financial assistance to military personnel like Ryan to help with pet care costs. They applied for a DoD grant to cover approximately $3,000 in quarantine fees. Dogs on Deployment put out a special appeal for help in conjunction with the Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2 on Crowdrise and quickly raised the needed funds.

“We are thrilled to help reunite a family with their dogs!” said Alisa Johnson. “It’s a great feeling to see our fundraising appeal met so quickly. If we win the Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2, the additional $20,000 will go a long way to help even more military families and pets.”

Ryan and Reese’s daughter with Pirate after finally being reunited thanks to Dogs on Deployment.

The Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2, created by Craigslist founder and philanthropist Craig Newmark, is a fundraising challenge in which Mr. Newmark has pledged to give a total of $50,000 to nonprofits that support active duty military and their families, veterans, police officers, and firefighters. The charity that raises the most money during the contest period wins $20,000. Organizations finishing second and third in the challenge will win $10,000 and $5,000, respectively. An additional $15,000 will be given away in smaller weekly challenges throughout the contest.
And now, for the best part of the story: by this July 4th, the whole family, Ryan, Reese, daughters Rainie (4) and Rinsley (18 mos.), and dogs Hannie, Lola, Pirate, and Bellini – will be reunited as a family once again, thanks to Dogs on Deployment and its generous donors!
“It is so heartwarming and awesome that you guys were there to save us,” said Reese. “I know it will be the most glorious Independence Day because we will all be home together and this crazy journey will be over.  We are all so thankful to everyone that donated!”

There are many, many more military families who face similar challenges! If Ryan and Reese’s story has touched your heart, please support Dogs on Deployment’s effort to win the Veteran’s Charity Challenge 2 by donating today! Any amount is welcomed! Thanks for supporting Dogs on Deployment.

*Through the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, service personnel may apply for assistance to pay for an annual vet exam or vaccinations before deployment, spay/neuter surgery, micro chipping, pet food/supplies, emergency medical care or boarding, overseas airline travel for PCS, quarantine costs, and certain other costs.

In addition to the Pet Chit Program, Dogs on Deployment also provides a pet fostering network to help military members find temporary care for their pets while on deployment. DoD also promotes responsible pet ownership among military families, raises awareness for the benefits of service dogs for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and advocates for standardized military pet policies at all U.S. military installations. DoD serves active military, veterans, and Wounded Warriors from all branches of the U.S Armed Forces. The fostering network is available for all types of domesticated animals.

Transportation Resources

Dogs on Deployment often gets requests for help with transport. While we can help network your need for transport by sharing on our social media pages, transportation is outside our primary mission. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of several organizations and businesses which provide both ground and air transport for pets, both nationally and internationally.

US Transport Organizations/Businesses

  • Air -  – Pilots N Paws is a 501c3 non-profit organization. This site is intended to be a meeting place for those who rescue, shelter or foster animals, and volunteer pilots and plane owners willing to assist with the transportation of animals.
  • Air/Ground -  – offers their client pets and their owners top notch relocation services and solutions. They will customize each move, and assist you with all the logistics and details, whether it is a local, domestic or international travel.
  • Ground -  – Operation Roger is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of regional and long-haul truckers who volunteer their time to transport needy pets as they do their regular jobs of delivering freight across the country.
  • Air (Hawaii specialized)Â – We take the stress out of ensuring your four legged family member arrives in paradise and will be directly released to you at the airport upon your arrival. Moving your pet from the island back to the main land can also be time consuming and frustrating.
  • Ground – Group of volunteers dedicated to providing transport for needing pets.
  • Ground – Martha’s Mutt Movers is an all volunteer transport service facilitating the safe transport of dogs to fully screened and approved rescues.
  • Ground – As truck drivers, we make our living with the freight we haul. That freight allows us to open our hearts and trucks to rescued pets at no charge. We only ask for reimbursement of needed items purchased while transporting. We go were the freight takes up and try to pick up furry hitchhikers in need along the way.
  • Ground -  – Roads of Hope is a 501(c)3, all Volunteer Animal Transport Rescue Group. We assist in getting animals from Shelters to Screened/Approved Rescues, Fosters and Adoptive Homes and from Rescues to Fosters and Adoptive Homes. We also help Military Deploying Overseas to get their Animals to Family Members or Fosters who are willing to care for their animals while they are gone.

International Transport Organizations/Businesses

  • Air/Ground -  – offers their client pets and their owners top notch relocation services and solutions. They will customize each move, and assist you with all the logistics and details, whether it is a local, domestic or international travel.

PCS: Pets’ Confusion and Separation

Military life is anything but normal; one of those abnormalities is the constant change of scenery. Since my husband and I have been in the military, between the two of us, we have completed six PCS moves (Permanent Change of Station). This week, I’ll be completing our seventh.

Its not just the humans that move, its the dogs too.

PCS moves are chaotic, disorganized, stressful and hard on families. You’ve got to deal with slow-moving administration offices who file your moving paperwork in methods that only were acceptable during days of the stone-age, you’ve got to upfront money for the costs of moving because the money department forgot to file your advances on pay, you’ve got to deal with movers that are paid minimum wage on a government contract where your stuff is in constant threat of being damaged, you’ve got to convince your housing complex to release you from your lease without finding the most absurd reasons to keep your housing deposit, you’ve got to find housing within 10 days at your new duty station that you’ve never been too while also going into work everyday, you’ve got to make sure all your check-in paperwork is in order, etc, etc, etc. Any military member or spouse can tell you PCSing is the least favorite part of military life!

And all this, you’ve got to deal with your fur-kids. They don’t understand what is going on. You’ve brought them to a home where they’ve settled. They’ve thoroughly marked the yard and neighborhood, they’ve developed a relationship with the neighbor’s dog and meet every morning at the fence line to bark for five minutes, they know the sound of your car coming in the driveway, the car ride to the dog park; and the one to the vet, they’ve established their favorite napping spot by the AC vent and their favorite place to pee (which happens to be indoors…). This is their home, then one day, strange people come and put everything in boxes, move it to a big truck and then they’re stuffed in a car full of household goods (the most amount that can fit since you get paid to move by weight), off to a new place.

This can be extremely stressful for animals, as well as people. The move that I will be making this week will be from Pensacola, FL to Corpus Christi, TX so that I can start Primary for Naval flight school. This is the first move that I’ve done on my own, and my first move where I have not only JD, but also Jersey (dog) and Kiki (parrot) tagging along.

JD and Jersey riding shot gun

All week I have been worrying what to do with my dogs once I get to Corpus. Once I get there, I have to check-in to my new command; but I can’t leave JD and Jersey in the hotel room by themselves, since they are not crate trained, so I’ve got to board them; that’s fine, but JD has the WORST separation anxiety of any dog I’ve ever known. So now I’ve removed him from his home, taken away all his things save a dog bed and his favorite toy, dumped him off at a kennel (though the nicest one in town) and will need to leave him overnight so that I can check-in first thing in the morning. And hopefully, through all this, when I check in, my Service Alphas will not be covered in dog hair. (Which inevitably happens every time).

I’ve got a housing complex lined up to move into 10 days after I’ve checked in, which will have a yard for the dogs and my household good should arrive the same day. The dogs should be settled soon, but from now until then, their emotional well-being will be a top concern of mine. But as a responsible pet owner, I’ve gotten my priorities in line and have plans for them throughout this transition.

Now this is where Dogs on Deployment comes in…

Originally starting DoD, our goal was to help military members while they’re on deployment. However, since founding, we’ve realized that military members need help for more things. A large contender against inconsistent pet policies causing families to have to give up their pets until they can find accepting housing, is families who are PCSing and need help.

We see families list their pets for two reasons in regards to PCSing; (1) short term help while they move or deal with quarantine requirements (my situation fits the bill for this type of need) and (2) families that are PCSing to a new duty station and cannot, or choose not to, bring their pets with them.

DoD now gears at helping during PCS moves. Our website states short term boarding is available (3 months or less), but sometimes due to living situations at the next duty station (sometimes required to live in barracks), breed bans, size limitations for travel or numerical limitations (especially for oversea PCS moves), pet owners need to utilize our DoD Boarders for longer commitments until they can receive orders back to the US. We’re here to help then too.

Jersey getting her annual vaccinations

What we want to encourage, is that pet owners no matter where they’re PCSing to or for how long, have plans for what to do with their pets. Here are some tips:

  • Get your pet microchippedand update the information to include the address where you’re going to.
  • Ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations in case professional boarding is required. Make sure you plan for this expense. Keep a record of your pet’s vaccination record with you during travel.
  • Have housing lined up before you arrive in your new town. Check their pet policy! Make sure they allow yourpet’s breed, size and the number of pets you own. Plan to have to put a pet deposit down, usually $100-$400 per pet depending on the housing complex. DoD does not allow pets to be posted on our website because pet owners moved into a housing complex without checking the pet policy first.
  • Know where you’re going to stay during your travels and when you get to your new duty station. Check your hotels policy on pets. Some hotels, such as LaQuintas, allow pets and do not require pet deposits! Others require pet fees and have limitations. These fees will not be reimbursed by the military. Usually, when you arrive at your new duty station, you will be required to live at the base’s lodging (BEQ/BOQ, hotel, etc). Check for their pet policy. If they don’t allow pets, make sure you obtain a signed certificate of non-availability so that you can get reimbursed for hotels paid for out in town.
  • Research boarding facilities and veterinarians in your new duty station. Call beforehand to see their availability and requirements to board or be seen by them.
  • If you think you’ll require the services of a DoD Boarder while you get situated in your new command, register your pet(s) ASAP and interview DoD Boarders before you arrive in the area.
  • If you are having to ship your pet (either across the country or overseas), get advice and make your pets’ travel arrangements through our partner, They are military-owned and operated and are a full-service pet travel agency specializing in families PCSing. Mention DoD referred you to receive 10% off their service fee.

With these key points of advice in mind, we hope that pets will be a major concern when a family executes a PCS move. After all, they are a part of the family, please treat them as such!