Michael and Sophie’s Story

Sophie and Michael outside the veterinary office before treatment.
Sophie and Michael outside the veterinary office before treatment.

A low income veteran, Michael, brought his ailing dog Sophie to the Humane Vet Hospital of San Diego for treatment for a painful ear hematomas and other medical issues. Unable to pay the full bill of over $600, Dr. Rosmo, who was treating Sophie, reached out to a veteran pet-adoption organization, and partner to Dogs on Deployment, Pets for Patriots. Together, through social media fundraising, we raised the necessary funds needed and Dogs on Deployment donated $300 directly to Sophie’s treatment. She was expected to make a full recovery.

Dogs on Deployment: DoD Boarder’s Perspective

By Laura Cooper
Editor’s Note: Laura Cooper is a long-time Army spouse living in the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. area. In addition to her generosity in providing loving homes for dogs while their owners and deployed, she actively volunteers at the Historical Society of Harford County, repairing and encapsulating archival documents, among other things. Original post found here.Â

If you are a pet owner I’m sure you have had the wonderful adventures of finding a boarder, babysitter, or coming to a point of having to take a beloved pet to the pound when deploying. But now there is another option – Dogs On Deployment.

Dogs On Deployment, or “DOD,” is a national, non-profit organization which provides a central online database for service members to search for individuals or families who are willing to welcome a DOD Pet into their home for the length of their owner’s deployment.

My family already had three beautiful labs, Abby 13 (from Ga.), Kelsey 10 (from Mo.), and Lucy-Lu (from Ky.) who just turned one last Dec 13th. But a couple of weeks ago we had another visitor flying in from San Diego, Calif. for a six month DOD stay. Her name is Sandy.

Sandy, a DOD.
Sandy, a Chihuahua-mix, found a temporary home with Laura Cooper’s family in Maryland.

Patrick and Lydia Harmer, Sandy’s owners, are set to move to their next duty station in Okinawa, Japan this month where they are not authorized to bring their pets. Patrick Harmer is a U.S. Marine and the couple has a two-year-old son and another child on the way in a few months. The Harmers own two beautiful dogs, but had to separate them because they could not find a volunteer to take both animals together, and at the time they came across us, their little Chihuahua-mix Sandy was still in need of a babysitter. The Harmers were so happy to find someone here in Maryland near Lydia’s mother in New Freedom, Penn., but what was more surprising was her mother knew our son Garen, and had just retired from his elementary school last year.

Patrick & Lydia Harmer
Upon receiving orders to Okinawa, Japan, the Harmer Family needed to find baby-sitters for their two dogs.

Late on a Tuesday evening Sandy arrived at BWI, and was kindly brought to our home by friends of Lydia’s mother. The Harmers tried to make this so much easier by helping Sandy feel a little bit more at home and comfortable by sending us her bed, toys, blanket, and treats…but we’ve already spoiled her rotten and plan to continue doing so.

Dogs on Deployment has been needed for many years to comfort a military pet owners’ heart. Now they can be reassured their loved one is being taken care of while they are away, and can focus on their work or task at hand. Until many are aware of DOD, one day a week is put aside, sometimes by their friends on Facebook, to search Craigslist.org for people who have come to an end of finding a home for their pet before deploying. So far I have come across 14 pets in need of care during deployments, and all have found babysitters in time. Take a couple of minutes and visit their site, I’m sure you’d be more then a little surprised…or as a pet owner a little less worried in the ‘what if’ department…

Jose, Lady and Copper’s Story

Jose was a Gulf War Era Navy veteran who found himself facing hard times and needed a helping hand. After losing his job, facing a divorce and ultimately becoming homeless, the only thing good in his life was his two Jack Russell terriers, Lady and Copper. Jose contacted Dogs on Deployment to help him find a foster home for his dogs while he enrolled into the Veteran Affairs Department’s Job Rehabilitation Program. We shared his plight, and the call to help a homeless veteran and his dogs brought forth amazing support.

Lady and Copper's photo shared across social media sites to try to find a suitable foster home.
Lady and Copper’s photo shared across social media sites to try to find a suitable foster home.

Another veteran who empathized with Jose’s situation offered her home not only to Lady and Copper, but also to Jose. The local news channel WTKR 3 covered this generosity on their segment, “It’s the Good News” and gifted Jose and the volunteer one month of rent. Unfortunately, Lady and Copper proved to not be dog friendly and could not be housed with the volunteer’s dog long term. Once Jose enrolled into the Veteran Affairs Department’s Homeless Shelter, he had to find another foster.

Because of the dogs’ heightened stress of a constantly changing environment combined with their senior age and health concerns, it was important to find a stable living situation for them. In order to ensure Jose could keep his dogs and in the best interest of Lady and Copper, Dogs on Deployment sponsored their stay at Holly Ridge Manor and Let’s Go Pet Care for over a month until a suitable foster home could be found. Dogs on Deployment partnered with another military pet foster group, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, in order to find the best home for them until Jose could afford a home of his own.

As of January 2013, Jose has been able to afford an apartment, hold a steady job and care for his two dogs. We’re very happy for his reunion and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

DoD Boarder Found for Airman in Wilmington

By Marcy Cuevas
Reposted from ABC WWAY 3

Wilmington, NC (WWAY) – Animal shelters often see an influx of pets when member of the military have to deploy. One organization hopes to change that by finding foster parents for the animals.

Technical Sgt. Marco Kalkbrenner was ready to deploy to Afghanistan, when he found out a friend could not watch his boxer Jake.

“It was getting to that point where I was going to have to give away Jake, and I was kinda heartbroken,” Kalkbrenner said.

The airman based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base searched online and found Dogs on Deployment. It’s an organization started last summer by a military couple who realized the need for foster pet parents.

“We thought it was a good idea to provide a network for military members to find people to watch pets when fulfilling their military commitments,” founder Alisa Johnson said.

Within no time, Kalkbrenner was matched up with Aimee Kryszcvynski.

“Our servicemen give back so much to us, so this is the least I could do,” she said.

Kryszcvynski took photos and videos of Jake and sent them to Kalkbrenner while he was in Afghanistan. It helped put his mind at ease.

“Instead of being in Afghanistan worried about what’s going on with my dog, I’m able to focus on my job and not worry about is my dog being treated good or is he all right,” Kalkbrenner said.

After nearly six months, Kalkbrenner returned to North Carolina. He and jake were quickly reunited. It was a bittersweet but rewarding moment for Kryszcvynski.

“I knew this was not my dog. I was doing a service, but he became a part of my family,” she said. “But I also knew he needed to go back home where he belonged.”

Since Dogs on Deployment started, it has matched up 100 animals, including dogs, cats and even a turtle.

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, PCSPets.com. 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!

A Shout that Needs to Be Heard

When I started Dogs on Deployment, I had one intention in mind; help those on deployment find temporary homes for their pets. It didn’t occur to me that there were so many problems that existed in the military-pet community, with no real resources to help. So here we are, trying to make change happen.

Recently, more and more owners of the infamous pit-bull have been registering for our site. Approximately 20% of our Pets in Need registered on Dogs on Deployment have been pit-bulls or another “aggressive” dog breed or some mix of. But unfortunately, our success rate for placing these dogs is not as high as other “non-aggressive” breed dogs. I can exactly pin point why when reading emails back and forth between Pet Owners and DoD Boarders.People fear these dogs. Their housing complexes don’t allow them. They don’t want to be responsible if the dog becomes aggressive.There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone not feeling comfortable boarding a certain type of dog. I personally would not feel comfortable boarding anything over 30 lbs; I have two dogs that pull as it is, give them 30 lbs more of pulling power and I would be keeled over in a heart beat. That is not the issue at hand. The issue is the organized discrimination against the breed. The issue is the bans, the lack of education and responsible pet-ownership, the lack of effective means of determining a dog’s temperament rather than relying on the breed alone.Good dogs and responsible pet-owners are being punished for the unfortunate actions of the few, scum of the planet folks that choose to abuse these dogs and participate in heinous crimes. The worst, is when its someone that has faced the terrors attacking this country, when they come home, their war has only begun; now they are fighting for the right to keep their pet because its breed is considered dangerous by some influential circles.

Two dogs that needed foster care through Dogs on Deployment, but were difficult to place because of their breed.

When I think back on pets that have gone through our site and have really affected me, they are all pitbulls. The first were Aries and Artemis; two pitbulls that were abandoned by their caregiver in the dead of winter outside with no food, water or shelter while their owner was deployed. My first thought when I heard this story was, “Two pitbulls? Who will take two pitbulls?” It broke my heart at the prospect we might not be able to help them because of their breed. Miraculously, our networking efforts paid off, and they both went to a safe home until their owner returned.

Jon and Diego, happily reunited after a deployment

Next came Diego. Diego and his owner I may never forget. After getting a desperate call from Diego’s caregiver that she could no longer keep him in his owner’s absence, we put out a plea, and a group of pitbull loving activists went to work transporting Diego from Southern California to Northern California, and organizing a heartfelt reunion for Diego’s owner, supplemented by a BBQ and even media coverage. The relief was immense.

A dog that could not accompany his family to his next duty station because of his breed.

Most recently is Pele and Kekoa. A supporter posted a news story on our Facebook page of a military member who received orders to Hawaii, but owns two pitbull mixes. Each are over 9 years old and have always been family pets. But with the breed bans sweeping base housing like wildfire, their family dogs were not allowed to live on base due to breed restrictions. While the family could theoretically live off-base, their housing allowance is not enough to put them in a family home in a safe neighborhood with a good school district for their children. They were placed in the situation that no one should have to face; choose between rehoming your dogs, or living in a safe area for your children. They ended up having to rehome their dogs permanently.

We know as an organization specifically helping military families, we are not going to be able to end breed discrimination nationwide, but perhaps we can start within our internal community; the military. After all, the civilian populace looks to the military for social guidance. If the military ends breed bans, who knows who will follow. Hopefully everyone.

So we’ve started a petition with our partner Hawaii Military Pets – an active group in the military-pet community. Our goal is to standardized military pet policies. We don’t want to just attack the ineffectiveness of breed bans, but also the lack of consistency on pet policies service and installation wide. A pet owner might be fine to have their three dogs on one base, but upon moving to a new base, they find out they are only allowed to have two. How are they supposed to prepare for this?

Since base housing has been privatized, each base housing group is able to establish their own policy, and unfortunately each one is difference. So we’ve started a petition to Congress to ask for standardized policies, and hopefully an end to breed specific legislation which attacks not only pitbulls, but rottweilers, chows, shiba inus and on some bases, German Shepherds, boxers, etc. Even if they keep breed bans, allow an option for exclusion through a Canine Good Citizen certification.

Here’s some keen thoughts for policy change:

  • If numerical limits from base to base are to be imposed, make them consistent.
  • Weight limits due not dictate any problematic behavior of a dog. A Great Dane is the world’s largest couch potato while a small terrier can be a flower bed’s worst nightmare.
  • Exchanging breed bans for an effective dangerous dog policy, targeting instead dogs that have has a record of bad behavior through dangerous dog registries, and if deemed effective and time worthy, temperament testing for “aggressive dog breeds.”
  • If breed bans are to remain imposed, make the list of breeds consistent from base to base. Allow an exception through a dog who has earned their Canine Good Citizenship despite any breed and a grandfather clause for dogs that have previously lived or are living in base housing.
  • Requirements for current vaccinations, microchipping, and possiblealteration.
  • Policy wide anti-tethering laws.
  • Pet educational courses and resources for on-base families.

The above mentioned are my personal thoughts for what key leaders can consider when they write new regulations. None of us have the power to write the new policy, as that will ultimately be up to the higher ups. But we can vocalize our ideas in hopes that when we contact Congress and key leaders with this petition, that we can submit our recommendations in hopes of adoption.

And what will all this accomplish? IMPROVED MORALE! Security in your pet ownership rights. Knowledge that no matter where you go, the rules will be the same. That way, when you add a new pet to your family, you know exactly what you are getting into, and potentially risking.

We’ve started a Facebook page to help promote this cause and hope you’ll join the fight against inconsistent policies. We’re happy to note that other national organizations have taken notice of the problems of base housing, including Stubby Dog, a non-profit focused on changing public perceptions of pit bulls. They’ve asked for pitbull owner’s personal stories from people in the military (past and present) who have (or have had) pit bull type dogs. We’ll be doing the writing and need YOUR stories! Email me below.

We want consistency! We hope you pledge to help. Sign the petition here and please share with anyone who would like to support us.

EMPOC Sundays

Because the military loves acronyms, Dogs on Deployment is coining “EMPOC.” What’s it stand for? An action close to our hearts; End Military Pets On Craigslist.

Craigslist is one of the most popular posting sites out there. On any given day, you can peruse thousands of listings in your city for anything from “dating” to furniture, cars to unopened packages of paper… And somewhere in there, under “community,” you’ll find hundreds of listings for pets.

Puppies for sale. A dog in a shelter looking for home. Feral cats looking for a place to live out their lives. Lost ferret. Lost llama (you know I love my llamas). And mixed in, few posts here and there warning people not to use Craigslists to rehome animals.

And yet, people continue to list pets on Craigslist.

Do a quick search on the dangers of Craigslist and you’ll receive hits on recent scams and crimes associated with the site. All this transfers to the pet community, and the dangers increase because now we’re dealing with a valuable commodity, and one that has a life. Military owners are not the only ones at risk here; anyone who posts a “free to good home” pet is putting themselves and their animals in danger. Unfortunately, military members are often desperate to find a home for their pets (temporary or permanently) when they resort to using Craigslist, and often will post them as “free” without knowing the risks.

Probably the greatest risk of free to good home ads is the quality of person who targets free to good homes. If a person is not willing to pay a small adoption fee, and expect a pet to be free, they are probably not the type of person that is willing to put any investment into an animal. Animal hoarders, families that cannot afford proper pet care and those who believe pets to be disposable are the ones who respond to free to good home posts, and not posts that ask for an adoption fee. In rare circumstances, it has been reported that criminals who seek pleasure from abusing and killing animals will pick up free to good home pets under the guise of an animal lover. One such case was reported in West Virginia, where a 20-year old male was picking up free to good home dogs and severely mutilating, torturing and murdering them. In total, he killed 29 puppies. (Via Pet Pardons)

Another growing scam is dubbed the Pet Profit Scam. The pet owner posts their pet on Craigslist for free, an adopter responds that they will give your dog a loving home, you meet, it seems like a good match so you give them your dog. Check back on Craigslist in a day’s time. Your pet might be listed on Craigslist again for a profit of $100-$200! This happened to a woman in New Jersey who posted her dog free on Craigslist. She met a nice husband and wife who took the dog. A week later, she found out that her dog had been sold to another family for $100. (Via Ripoff Report)

The farm of Floyd and Susan Martin in Southampton, PA which was keeping an inventory of dogs to sell to medical testing facilities.

There have also been reports of free pets being sold for medical testing to companies, some in the states and some across the border. There have been kennels shut down that were keeping inventory on stray, lost, or free to good home pets. They were selling these pets to leading medical testing facilities for $50-$75 each. (Via PennLive)

A free to good home pitbull puppy who was lucky to be adopted to a good home

Free to good home dogs and cats are also in extreme danger of being picked up and used as bait dogs and the fighting rings. Dog fighting is a crime that is prevalent among certain social groups, and typically the pitbull terrier has the highest risk of being picked up by these groups. Young pitbulls posted free to good home might be picked up by someone who wants to test their aggression and potential to be a fighting dog. (Via Examiner) Other breeds, even cats, or pitbulls which do not have good potential can be used at bait dogs. Becoming a bait dog is a fate that no living creature should ever have to endure. Bait dog’s muzzles are duck taped closed so they cannot fight back, they are thrown into a ring with a fighting dog, and the criminals excite the dog to attack the bound dog until it is so wounded they kill it, leave it to die or allow the fighting dog to finish the job.

With all these risks, its a wonder anyone would post their pets on Craigslist. No pet, whether owned by a military member or not, should ever post their pet on Craigslist, especially as “free to good” home. This is why Dogs on Deployment has started EMPOC Sundays. Our goal is to every week thoroughly scrub Craigslist for any military pets posted on Craigslist due to deployments or other military commitments. They need to know about Dogs on Deployment in order to increase their chances of finding a responsible and loving DoD Boarder who will care for their pet, eliminating the risks of posting on Craigslist.

So do your part. Every Sunday, do a local search on Craigslist for free or military pets and warn them of the dangers and if applicable, share our organization with them. This is something that everyone can do in order to make a difference in the life of human and canine alike.

Dogs on Deployment Helping Reduce Pet Abandonment

By Christie Walton
Reposted from Fox 4 News

SAN DIEGO, CA — Many members of the military have to abandon their pets when they are deployed overseas. Several groups in California are trying to help ease that burden.

“I remember it 25 years ago, you could tell when there was a large deployment because cities like Oceanside, and Vista and Carlsbad would suddenly have there were a lot of dogs on the street,” said John Van Zante with the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

Even though the situation has improved, it’s still a big problem.

“Someone’s deployed so they don’t know what to do,” he said. “Basically they set their dog or cat out on the way out the door.”

Van Zante said some military members will show up the day before deployment and his organization always tries to help.

Alisa Johnson faced a similar situation when she lived on base and her husband was deployed early. That experience led her to start Dogs on Deployment.

“I do think the military should have more pet support,” Johnson said.

The group connects military pet owners with temporary foster parents. The pet owner pays with their own money.

“As a military member we should be leading the moral standards to American society,” she said.

What if it were your dog?

I have had JD since he was an 8 week old puppy, and he just turned four in March. (Where does the time go?) Since his “infancy,” he has been exposed to nearly everything but a plane ride, rock concert and scuba diving. He has met people, other dogs, cats, horses, cows, pigs, parrots, squirrels (he really LOVES squirrels…) etc. To put it short, he is well-socialized. He is (mostly) well-trained, and despite his protests, he’ll usually roll over or play dead for a treat (unless he’s being very lazy). I feed him food that I would eat in an emergency, take him to the vet for his annual checkup, spend about 30 minutes an evening brushing his ridiculously thick coat, and spoil him rotten. I’d say, overall, I’m a decent pet-owner.

JD has a step above most dogs, because he has an owner who really cares about his physical, mental and emotional well-being. One of the ways I keep him stimulated, is by near-daily trips to the dog park. He has been to parks across the nation through our military-commanded travels. He’s met so many dogs and people I’m sure butt-smells are a blur to him.

Never in his four years has he had an incident with another dog. Until today.

I took JD and Jersey to a new dog park. We normally go to Bayview dog park in Pensacola, because there is a beach, a nice running trail and also a fenced in dog park. Due to errands I had to run today, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone (I was getting brochures printed for our event at the Shiloh Airport in North Carolina, on April 14th!). They excitedly ran into the park, smelt the new dogs and explored their new surroundings, always keeping me in sight. Jersey brought me a disgusting germ-covered ball and I gladly threw it for her because she’s so cute and in her puppy-way she asked “Please!” We were having a grand old time. I thought, maybe I found a new dog park that is closer to home (and one without a beach, because every time we go to the park portion of Bayview, JD stares at me wondering why we’re not at the beach portion…).

The dogs were getting a little worn out but my brochures weren’t going to be done for another 30 minutes so we sat on the bench and JD jumped up beside me for a good scratch behind the ears. Jersey joined shortly after and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I laughed and told the girl next to me, “We could be doing this at home!” Indeed – that is what we’re doing right now, sitting together, all three of us on the couch.

A dog that JD had been somewhat getting a long with came up to sniff JD. The girl next to me sat down and put her backpack between us. The dog, which we will name “Precious,” (we will use this as an euphemism) came up to sniff the backpack, which JD was also sniffing, and suddenly, went into attack mode. (I found out after that there was some food in the backpack.)

Precious grabbed JD by the scruff and yanked him to the ground. Without screaming or making a sound, I leaped to my feet, grabbed Precious by her scruff and threw her a good four feet from JD. All I saw were tuffs of JD’s white fur floating peacefully through the air as Precious attacked again. JD, backing away and trying to avoid getting bit by his neck area, took protection behind me while I seized the dog one more time and then pushed JD even further away. This time, Precious lunged at ME! She grabbed me by the wrist before finally coming-to and let go.

Artist rendition of the owner of Precious

I had yelled for the owner, who stood idly beside us with his leash in hand, a bit dumbfounded. I told him frankly, “Get your dog out of this park.” He apologized several times, leashed his dog and left. Despite some missing fur, a bit of shock, a scratched cell phone (from falling out of my lap when I leaped to save my dog – whatever – a million and one cell phones wouldn’t amount to the worth of my dog [a million and one cell phones at the price iPhone charges – without a contract]) and a bruised wrist that temporarily doesn’t bend, all is fine.

I myself left immediately after gathering my things. JD, Jersey and I took a well-deserved trip to Petco (will they pay DoD royalties for this?) to buy entirely too many toys and a can of Wellness’ Lamb stew. At checkout, as I was awkwardly holding my keys, dogs, wallet and purchases due to my swelling wrist, the cashier asked me what was wrong, so I briefly explained what happened.

Her reply, “Was it a [breed of dog – I don’t want to cause any biases… but it was NOT a bully breed!!!] owned by an older man?” I said, why yes, yes it was! And she said she stopped going there because she had seen that same dog in attacks with others before!

Wow. And he still brings his dog back?

The dog bite

I am a strong proponent for “Blame the deed, not the breed.” I didn’t even want the man’s name or number after I found out JD was OK. First, JD is insured (I highly recommend pet insurance in case of injury or illness) but second, JD was in fact, OK. I have no idea what the background of this dog is. She looked healthy; good weight, bright eyes, friendly demeanor. Her owner obviously cared some about her since she was at the dog park. Was she a rescue? Did she have a bad past? But how can an owner stand idly by while his dog is attacking another? Why would you bring your dog back if it had been in incidents before? Do you ever blame the dog, and not the people?

I don’t know if I did the right thing by not reporting this man’s dog. I think I did. It wasn’t so serious that I felt it needed to be reported. But what if it had been? Or what if the next time this dog attacks, it is serious? I warned that man he should not bring his dog back to the park. But now we’re punishing the dog for a possible lack of responsibility on the owner’s behalf. Its a catch-22 scenario. There is no perfect solution.

What I can say is this, I won’t be returning to that park as long as that crowd is there. I can also guarantee all of you that my dogs will remain properly socialized and stimulated, and if one of my dogs ever becomes aggressive, I’ll be seeking professional help to put them back on track, because what if it were ever JD who was the perpetrator of a dog attack? I hope that it would be the same for my readers. If you’re reading this, you must give a hoot about the welfare of animals, as we all should.

Dawn and Honey’s Story

Dawn, a Navy spouse living in Guam , had a strong love for animals and constantly was trying to improve the lives of the stray animals living in Guam best she could. One particular dog changed her world. Dawn came across an abused and completely emaciated pitbull terrier mix chained in a backyard whom presumably was being used as a bait dog or breeding dog for dog fighting, a common sport in Guam.

A photo of how skinny Honey was when Dawn first found her.
A photo of how skinny Honey was when Dawn first found her.

After acquiring the dog through negotiating with the tenants, she and her husband found out he was being moved back to the United States within the next few months. Dawn took the dog to the island’s shelter, hoping they could help improve her health and adopt her; however they told her they would immediately euthanize the dog due to her history and terrible health condition, despite her sweet demeanor.

Honey enjoying affection from her Navy dad once moved to Washington.
Honey enjoying affection from her Navy dad once moved to Washington.

Dawn, undefeated to save her, named her Honey for her beautiful coloring and personally invested time and money into increasing her weight and medically treating her many conditions. Over the course of Honey’s recovery, Dawn became not only financially strapped, but also emotionally invested in Honey that she could not give her away for fear of her future. Dawn began looking into bringing her to the US, but found shipping costs plus the needed medical certificates were no longer in her already tight budget. She reached out to Dogs on Deployment who sponsored Honey’s final medical screening for travel, air line ticket and spay surgery. Honey is now happily living with Dawn and her husband in Washington state. Without Dawn, Honey would not be alive today.