Category Archives: Volunteers of DoD

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 3, 2016

Dogs on Deployment Volunteer, Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk
of Pensacola, FL, Earns Distinction with
Volunteer of the Quarter 3, 2016 Award

 

Jackie Nichols Mikolaczyk, Gulf Coast DoD Coordinator, with Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment

 

Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk Recognized for her Efforts and Dedication to Dogs on Deployment

Dogs on Deployment is an organization completely staffed by volunteers, without whom, our mission would be impossible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployments shares a few things in common, namely compassion, motivation, and honor. Each quarter, the Board of Directors chooses one of our many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder of Dogs on Deployment, proudly announced that Jacquie Nichols Mikolaczyk is the recipient of our “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the third quarter of 2016. The event was recorded, and the link provided here will take you to that video, on our Facebook – DoD: Gulf Coast page.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/DoDGulfCoast/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

Passion & Conviction, Onward…

Since the summer of 2014, Jacquie has been an important member of the Dogs on Deployment team. She first began volunteering with Dogs on Deployment in the Pensacola, Florida region of the country. There, she impressed other volunteers with her dedication to the cause, and her driving passion to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

When the previous Pensacola Local Coordinator for Dogs on Deployment moved from the area, Jacquie was the obvious choice to step up in the vacant role. She enthusiastically accepted the position, and soon proved that she was up for the challenge, far exceeding the expectations of the leaders of the organization.

Jacquie has a contagious spunk and has never meet a stranger. She was responsible for coordinating several events in and around the Pensacola and Lower Alabama areas, including several successful Beer, Dog, Veteran fundraising events, and Dogs on Deployment’s first ever Poker Run. As a direct result of Jacquis’ networking efforts, the Pensacola, FL Chapter of Dogs on Deployment gained several important donors and sponsors in the area — including Navy Federal Credit Union, Harley Davidson of Pensacola, and Pen Air Federal Credit Union.

 

Jacquie, representing DoD at Beer, Dogs and Veterans event
Jacquie at the Marine Corps League Speaking Series, with Retired Navy Pilot Honored for Native American Heritage

 

 

 

… and Upward

In 2016, when the position for Dogs on Deployment, Gulf Coast Regional Coordinator became vacant, once again, Jacquie was the obvious choice to step up to this role and begin leading the entire Gulf Coast.

Since taking over in that capacity, Jacquie has put the growth and success of the Gulf Coast Region into hyperdrive, while continuing to grow the local Pensacola Chapter. She has brought on new, passionate local coordinators in both Huntsville, AL and Jacksonville, FL along with many more volunteers. She not only works hard, but works to recognize the volunteers around her through her “Feel Good Friday” Facebook posts.

At the recent award ceremony, Jackie told us, “I have never been more honored to a part of an organization than I was today. I get to do something I love to do, along with people that have become a family — Dogs on Deployment. Thank you so very much!”

 

High Praise from Dogs on Deployment President, Alisa Johnson

“Jacquie is a motivated, passionate and reliable leader. Her dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around her, and those throughout the organization. She is a respected member of the team not only by her fellow volunteers, but also by the Board of Directors. Jacquie willingly makes herself available, offers her attendance whenever needed, and demonstrates a genuine passion for the organization’s mission.”

President & Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment, Alisa Johnson added, “Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Jacquie a team member of Dogs on Deployment. Keep up the good work!

We look forward to your continued support for many years to come.”

 

 

Ron Kerrigan, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016

 

Washington State Volunteer, Ron Kerrigan Earns Distinction with Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016: Recognized for Efforts, Initiatives on Behalf of Dogs on Deployment

 

Dogs on Deployment is an organization completely staffed by volunteers – without whom our mission would be impossible. Each person that supports Dogs on Deployment shares a few things in common: compassion; motivation; and honor. Each quarter, the DoD Board of Directors chooses one of our many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment proudly announced that Ron Kerrigan, Washington state volunteer for Dogs on Deployment, is the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the second quarter of 2016.

 

Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in.
Ron Kerrigan, manning a Dogs on Deployment booth at one of the many volunteer events he participates in, in Washington state.

Ron Kerrigan: Longtime Supporter of Military Service Members and Their Pets

Ron has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team since 2014 when he first volunteered to board and foster military service members’ dogs.  But his concern and activism for the cause started years earlier.

Ron volunteered at an animal shelter on Whidbey Island throughout the 1990s, and saw firsthand how many United States Navy service members typically surrendered their dogs when deployed or transferred. This was especially evident in the wake of 9-11, in late 2001.

Said Ron, “I actually took a sailor’s dog for him during this pre-Dogs on Deployment period, but it happened only because I was in the office when he came in to give up his friend.”

Ron continued, “I was also involved back then in Old Dog Haven, as a board member and foster family. In 2011 a married couple stationed at JBLM contacted ODH looking to re-home their senior dog. One was going to Afghanistan, the other to Cuba. I took in their dog, but it was a surrender-agreement.”

Dogs on Deployment was still a fledgling organization at the time, without the major volunteer base it now has. “I kept that dog until April of this year when her age — 16 years — finally caught up with her. Coincidentally, both the husband and wife were back at JBLM for a short time. They drove up to be with her at the vets when we sent her off,” added Ron.

Fortunately, Ron and the folks at Old Dog Haven started looking for alternative solutions when service members did not want to surrender their pet. In 2014 Ron discovered Dogs on Deployment and signed up as a volunteer boarder. For his first “official DoD” outing, he boarded a pair of dogs for a service member stationed on the USS Nimitz. Ron recalls that the service member would bring his dogs over for three or four weeks at a time whenever the boat went out on exercises.

Since then Ron has worked with tireless dedication to the cause, and brings his love of dogs everywhere he now goes to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

 

This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!
This display case shows the many items Ron has used as a Dogs on Deployment volunteer at various events. It will be on display at his public library branch through December, 2016. Check out the giant dog tags – he made them himself, and offered them freely to other DoD volunteers that wanted them!

 

Bremerton Event Coordinator, Laura Finch, assisted in the nomination of Ron for this award. After Board review, he was wholeheartedly selected to be our Volunteer of the Quarter 2, 2016 by DoD President, Alisa Johnson. “Ron’s dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around him and everyone throughout the organization,” said Alisa.

“Ron’s been awesome at helping and setting up Dogs on Deployment events on Whidbey Island, most often on his own,” said Laura. “He’s been really great and a more than worthy candidate for DoD’s Volunteer of the Quarter!”

Among the many events he has participated in are:

  • The WAIF Wag n’ Walk: three years running – 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Scrub a Mutt 2015
  • Everett Mutt Strut 2015, 2016 (he even paid application fees with his own money)
  • Mill Creek Festival 2016

And Ron continues to serve as a dog boarder. Last year he took in a dog for seven months when his owner went to Japan. “And in June, 2016 I had a dog for a month when his mom went to sea from Everett,” said Ron.

Boarding more mature dogs may be on the horizon. Ron added, “my own pack, now at five dogs, is old and sedate, so young dogs can be a trial.”

Congratulations, Ron!

Ron witnessed the pain and heartbreak that was common when military service members were forced to surrender their family pet in the name of service to his or her country. He exemplifies volunteerism at its finest because he got involved to provide a solution to the problem.

Added Alisa Johnson, “Due to his hard work, big heart, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Ron Kerrigan a team member of Dogs on Deployment.”