2016 Veterans Charity Challenge 4 is Here

Support Dogs on Deployment in our Quest to Be the Best in the 2016 Veterans Charity Challenge 4

Dogs on Deployment will again this year participate in the upcoming Veterans Charity Challenge 4, which launches May 25th at 12pm ET, and runs through July 6th at 1:59:59pm ET. It is our hope, according to Dogs on Deployment President and Co-Founder, Alisa Johnson that DoD comes in first place in 2016 and meets the goal of raising over $40,000 (what’s that? – do I hear $50,000?!) to directly benefit the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. Our successful Pet Chit program strives to keep military families together with their pets. Dogs on Deployment came in second place the last two years it participated in this friendly competition.

The Veterans Charity Challenge 4 (VCC4) is an online fundraising challenge created and hosted by Craigslist founder and philanthropist Craig Newmark. His efforts have already significantly helped to raise both money and awareness for organizations benefitting America’s heroes, including military members and their families. Through the VCC4 and his charity, craigconnects, Mr. Newmark has pledged to give a total of $50,000 to a variety of nonprofit organizations. Follow this link for more information. https://www.crowdrise.com/veteranscharitychallenge4

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

The organization that succeeds in raising the most money during the fundraiser will be awarded additional big money prizes!

  • First place receives $20,000
  • Second place receives $10,000
  • Third place receives $5,000
  • Fourth place receives $2,500
  • Fifth place receives $1,000

Dogs on Deployment raised $32,800 in 2014 and $31,266 in 2015, coming in second place both years. Those are impressive numbers for sure, but the Veterans Charity Challenge is our one and only fundraising campaign of the year! Our goal is to raise $40,000 in 2016 and get first place bonus money.

  • Any monies raised are 100% tax-exempt donations.
  • Total money raised goes directly to supporting Dogs on Deployment’s foster network and our Pet Chit Program.
  • People can contribute locally through their local DoD chapters; and
  • Anyone can fundraise for Dogs on Deployment by joining the team.

There are prizes for the top fundraising teams! BONUS CHALLENGES to win too!!

But Wait, … There’s More!

In addition to the overall prizes, there are bonus challenges we can win. Bonus challenges take place at different intervals during the overall competition and represent an additional opportunity to show support of Dogs on Deployment.

BONUS CHALLENGE #1: MAY 25 – MAY 31

The organization that raises the most online this week will win $1,500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #2: MAY 31 – JUNE 7

Every organization that raises at least $500 this week will be entered to win $1,500. And, there will be 2 winners.

BONUS CHALLENGE #3: JUNE 7 – JUNE 14

The two organizations that raise the most online this week will play Rock, Paper, Scissors. The organization that wins Rock, Paper, Scissors gets $1,000 and the organization that does not win gets $500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #4: JUNE 14 – JUNE 21

Every charity that raises at least $200 online this week will get entered to win $200. There will be 10 winners.

BONUS CHALLENGE #5: JUNE 21 – JUNE 28

The top four organizations to raise the most online this week each will each win $500.

BONUS CHALLENGE #6: JUNE 28 – JULY 6

Raise at least $1,500 online this week for a chance to win $1,500.

Quit Barking and Sign Me Up!

The Dogs on Deployment Page fundraising page through which donations can be made is:

http://bit.ly/dod-vcc4

Stay tuned — DoD will post updates when the challenge gets underway.

 

Returning to Gunner: A Homecoming Tale

 

Emotions run high when a military service member returns from his or her assignment to pick up their beloved pet from a Dogs on Deployment boarder. This was true for Sara Liming, United States Navy, when she recently reunited with her dog, Gunner, a beautiful brindle colored Boxer mix who turns four years old this June. She can remember getting Gunner when he was no bigger than her boots.

Sara visited a San Antonio, Texas animal shelter, where she officially adopted Gunner ‘Bubs’ Liming. Gunner told us that he had her at “hello,” after which he climbed on Sara’ lap and immediately fell asleep.
Sara visited a San Antonio, Texas animal shelter, where she officially adopted Gunner ‘Bubs’ Liming. Gunner told us that he had her at “hello,” after which he climbed on Sara’s lap and immediately fell asleep.

 

The Bond Between a Dog Like Gunner and Sara

As a member of the United States Navy, Sara Liming, like any member of the armed services repeatedly encounters situations which can induce stress easily and quickly. The reality is that sometimes friends, and fellow brothers and sisters in arms often find themselves in danger, and everyone faces the real possibility of death. But Sara says, “no matter how dark my days might get with work or life in general, when I come home and see my dog Gunner wagging his tail and happily jumping all over me, any issue seems to melt away as I stare at that little furry face of my pound puppy.”

Sara had never been away from Gunner longer than a day or two when she found out that she would be deploying in 2015. She’d deployed with the Navy before, but this was the first time that Sara had anything back home that she “was worried about – worried about losing, or hurting. Gunner had been everywhere with me up to that point,” added Sara. “He used to go to duty with me and play with students and walk around base with me at work. I had mixed emotions about going because I didn’t want to leave something behind that had become such an integral part of my life.”

In an effort to solve the gut-wrenching dilemma someone recommended Dogs on Deployment to Sara, but initially she had reservations about the idea, wondering how random people would just volunteer to take your pet into their homes and love them as one of their own.

Since the day I rescued Gunner he rescues me every day with those adorable brown eyes and his unconditional love, says Sara Liming, Gunner’s owner.
“Since the day I rescued Gunner he rescues me every day with those adorable brown eyes and his unconditional love,” says Sara Liming, Gunner’s owner.

 

 

 

Sara was terrified that if she left Gunner with someone long term then they either wouldn’t give him back upon request, (“because he’s amazing!”) or Gunner wouldn’t remember her. She decided to check out DoD anyway.

DoD Boarders Give New Meaning to “Peace of Mind”

Sara first met Carla Schultes, Gunner’s potential DoD boarder online, where the two exchanged emails. Carla is actually a well experienced and wonderful representative for Dogs on Deployment’s boarding program, who has a dog of her own and has previously fostered other dogs. Carla told us “Dogs on Deployment combines two of my greatest passions, i.e., supporting those who serve in the military and helping animals.” (Before any boarding agreement is reached, Dogs on Deployment takes measures to ensure a successful boarding experience and smooth transition for all involved; see DoD Policy Guidelines on this website).

Though an old pro at this, Carla did tell us that first meetings among everyone involved are “a little strange – like a blind date!”  But Sara’s fears were put to rest because, as she says, “Gunner loved Carla the minute we pulled up. He was so excited when he met her, all smiles and loving on him. Then he met Carla’s dog and the two were instant friends. The more Gunner interacted with her, her husband and her dog the more at ease I felt. I didn’t think it would click right away, but before I left they offered to foster Gunner.” Carla remembers that “Luckily for us, it was a match! Gunner and our dog, Donovan, got along well and once Jon and I spent some time with Gunner, we knew he was a happy-go-lucky guy who would be just fine with our family.”

Adds Sara, “Finding someone who loved their dog as much as I love Gunner made it easier for me to leave him. The passion and love Carla has for what she does, and for her family and dog, Donovan, made me feel that Gunner would be loved and cared for the same amount as though it were coming from me.”

Pals Gunner, and Donovan.
Pals Gunner, and Donovan.

Sara’s ship deployed Sept 10, 2015, for what turned out to be her third and longest deployment. Having photos and videos emailed to her from Carla “helped me get through the rough patches of deployment where there seemed to be endless work and not enough sleep. The day I returned to San Diego the only thought on my mind was getting home and then to Los Angeles to get my baby, Gunner,” continued Sara. “The entire deployment I had kept his pictures in my rack, on my phone, on my computer, traveling with them, and now I was a two-hour drive from seeing Gunner. I remember worrying that he wouldn’t remember me, and that maybe he was happier with his foster family. It was all I could think about the entire drive — after seven long months, will my dog remember me?”

How Sweet It Is

Sara finally arrived at Carla’s house for her reunion with Gunner. She remembers her dog’s boarder greeting her and welcoming Sara home with a “giant, warm smile. Carla turned to go into her house first and I followed. I barely made it into the front door before Gunner pounced. He immediately began whining and jumping at my legs, nearly knocking me down. He was trying to lick my face, smell me and climb up into my arms all at the same time. All I wanted to do was hug him and smell his puppy smell to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This once little dog who I saved still saves me, remembers and loves me like no time at all had passed — as if I’d just left to go to the store. “

Their Reunion – “Gunner just kept jumping up and licking me for a long time, “ Sara told us.
Their Reunion – “Gunner just kept jumping up and licking me for a long time, “ Sara told us.

 

“When he finally settled he stayed close to me and every time I walked away towards another room in Carla’s house Gunner made sure I was within sight, welcoming me back each time with a throng of kisses. People always say a dog is not a child, he or she is a pet. My dog is my life, and I can’t remember being so happy and so elated over a ‘pet’ in my life!” Sara added, “I love Carla and Jon for their amazing care of my boy while I was gone. They are the most fantastic couple to do what they do and ask nothing in return. They loved and cared for Gunner like he was their own precious Donovan and I am eternally grateful.”

Modest as always, Carla says, “as boarders, we know what we are doing is a genuine service, but we feel that the greater service is being done by the owner as a member of our military. Watching their pet pales in comparison! “

Says Carla, pictured here with Sara, Donavan and Gunner, “for us the reunion is the best gift of all!”
Says Carla, pictured here with Sara, Donovan and Gunner, “for us the reunion is the best gift of all!”

 

Carla adds that when people ask about the Dogs on Deployment program, she always tells them “if you are willing to open your heart and home, this experience will change your life in all the best ways possible. I encourage everyone to look on the DoD website and find a pet that matches their family! Our vets deserve to have their animals taken care of because they are the ones taking care of us!”

Agreed.

Karen White, Dogs on Deployment Rockville, Maryland Coordinator and DoD Fundraising Director, Awarded Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016

Compassion, Motivation and Honor Exemplified

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: compassion; motivation; and honor. Each quarter, the DoD Board of Directors chooses one of its many volunteers to be recognized for their genuine contribution, steadfast volunteerism, and unwavering support of our service members and their pets.

Karen White, Recipient, Dogs on Deployment Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016
Karen White, Recipient, Dogs on Deployment Volunteer of the Quarter, Q1 2016

Alisa Johnson, President and Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment has proudly announced that Karen White, Rockville Maryland Coordinator and Fundraising Director, is the recipient of the “Volunteer of the Quarter” award for the first quarter of 2016. Since April 2012, Karen has been an integral member of the Dogs on Deployment team. Karen first began volunteering with DoD as a local volunteer around Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia, where she impressed other volunteers with her tireless dedication to the cause and inspiring passion to promote the mission of Dogs on Deployment.

Demonstrating that she was one of the most reliable volunteers in the region, Karen was first brought on as the Rockville Coordinator in September 2014. She enthusiastically accepted the position, proving in the years to come that she was not only up for the challenge, but could greatly exceed expectations of the leaders of the organization. Over the last two years, Dogs on Deployment has relied upon Karen to manage the Rockville Chapter, and to additionally step in for others when unforeseen emergencies arose.

Karen understands the need for a not-for-profit organization’s media exposure and a social media presence, and has been available for public appearances and interviews, like her interview on The Pet Show with Dr. Katy (see the YouTube video link provided here). She has coordinated many events in and around her service area including several successful walks, partnerships with other organizations like the USO, and local fundraisers.

In October 2014, Karen took on additional responsibility within Dogs on Deployment, and was recruited to take over the position as Fundraising Director for Dogs on Deployment, where she would be responsible for the coordination and follow through for successful fundraising and affiliate programs to financially benefit the organization. As Fundraising Director, she has raised over $5,000 for Dogs on Deployment by working with over ten companies and affiliate partners. She continues to be a fountain of ideas, consistently seeking new ways to improve the fundraising opportunities available for Dogs on Deployment.

DoD organization leaders including Alisa Johnson and Rhonda O’Shields, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, have found Karen White to be a motivated, passionate and trustworthy leader, whose dedication to Dogs on Deployment has been a tremendous asset to those around her and everyone throughout the organization. She is viewed as a respected member of the DoD team by fellow volunteers as well as the Board of Directors. Karen willingly makes herself available, offers her attendance at events whenever needed, and demonstrates a genuine desire for the organization’s mission.

Karen White is handed her recognition plaque by Rhonda O'Shields

“Due to her hard work, contagious positivity, and strong dedication, I am sincerely proud to call Karen White a team member of Dogs on Deployment. “ Alisa Johnson, President & Co-Founder, Dogs on Deployment

Karen White Reflects on Volunteering with Dogs on Deployment

Fortunately for us, Karen says she “stumbled upon Dogs on Deployment after an unsatisfying volunteer experience with another charity.” During a recent chat, she continued sharing her story:

“I saw a Facebook post asking for volunteers for the Army Ten-Miler and signed up. The whole process was so streamlined. The people I met that day were wonderful, and some I’ll consider lifelong friends. My experiences at each event thereafter were always positive. I was positive I’d found my calling. I’ve attended many events, set up fundraisers and have even enjoyed representing DoD in front of live cameras despite my initial fears about that process!

My husband, Rob and I have even signed up to be boarders and had our first “deployed pet” last September. Sam was an exuberant puppy we grew to love as one of our own. His mother, Laura, is even trusting us to watch him again this coming September while she’s attending a training mission.

I am completely humbled and proud to receive this honor. I believe wholeheartedly in DoD. It’s an awesome organization that provides a vital service. My “regular” job is a practice manager at a veterinary clinic. I have been working with animals for over 11 years but have been in love with animals all my life. Growing up as an “Army Brat,” my family moved around a lot but we never had to give away a pet; I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak one must endure in having to give away their family pet in the name of service to his/her country.

This award caught me completely by surprise and I’m thrilled to be selected.  I hope to continue on with Dogs on Deployment for the rest of my life. I can’t see myself doing anything else that gives me such pleasure. Thank you, DoD!”

Karen and Rhonda celebrate the good news at a luncheon.
Karen and Rhonda celebrate the good news at a luncheon.

 

You’re welcome Karen White, but no thanks are necessary. Dogs on Deployment thanks you, and we wish you continued success in all your endeavors!

 

 

 

Pet Chit Used to Treat Canine Parvovirus in one Military Family Dog: What This Medical Condition Is, and Meeting Maximus, The Pup Who Survived Parvo to Soldier On

Understanding Canine Parvovirus, Its Symptoms, and Preventing This Illness

Joshua Morris, United States Marine Corps and his wife, Chelsea adopted an adorable puppy named Maximus December, 2015.

Maximus, cured from canine parvovirus in January, 2016 thanks to the DoD Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.
Maximus, cured from canine parvovirus in January, 2016 thanks to the DoD Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

What is Parvo?

Canine parvovirus type 2, referred to commonly as Parvo, is a contagious virus that can be life threatening in dogs. Parvo affects their intestinal tract and white blood cells. When puppies in particular are diagnosed with Parvo, the virus damages the heart muscle and can cause a debilitating cardiac problem. Parvo can be spread by any person, animal or object that has had either direct or indirect contact with an infected dog’s feces.

What Are the Symptoms of Parvo and Who Gets It?

Symptoms of Canine parvovirus include:

  • lethargy
  • severe vomiting
  • loss of appetite and
  • bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that when left untreated can lead to severe dehydration.

Any or all of these factors together can possibly lead to shock, or death. Puppies younger than four months old are usually more susceptible to Parvo but dogs young and old alike who are not vaccinated against this illness are at risk. Parvo may infect other animals but people won’t get sick from it.

Maximus’ new owners, the Morris family, recognized within just days of adopting their puppy from the local humane society that something was very wrong. Maximus was lethargic, suffering from both diarrhea and vomiting and clearly not well.  Fearing that these symptoms might in fact be signs of Parvo, and knowing that Joshua Morris was committed to a PCS soon, the family immediately took their puppy to a veterinary clinic, where their suspicions over Parvo were sadly confirmed.

Treating Parvo

Treatment for Parvo is not 100% successful and is very costly. Affected dogs, like Maximus, typically are hospitalized for several days. There is no cure-all drug treatment therapy for Parvo; instead, dogs receive intensive care consisting of antibiotics, anti-vomiting medications and extensive intravenous fluids to bolster their immune system and regain strength.

Given the nearly prohibitive cost of treating Maximus’ illness, the Morris family called the humane society where they originally adopted the dog and discussed the problem. Fortunately, Brianne Youngberg of the Yuma Humane Society, a longtime supporter of Dogs on Deployment, and luckily, the representative who spoke with them over the phone, notified the Morris family about Dogs on Deployment and the organization’s ability to help active duty military members with their pets in the form of “pet chits” ” through our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. More on that later!

Preventing Parvo in the First Place

Simple vaccinations prevent Parvo from ever being a problem. Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations since they will protect her or him from a great number of illnesses and potentially make the difference between life and death. Discuss a proper vaccination schedule for your dog with a licensed veterinarian.

Remember earlier in Max’s story, we noted that even objects that come into contact with an infected dog’s feces can spread the Parvo virus. This potentially could mean:

  • dog toys, pool toys
  • food and water dishes and bowls
  • baskets, bedding, kennels and crates
  • dog collars, leashes, clothing, etc.

Consider everything that your dog can get into in and around the home and yard. If you don’t properly clean and disinfect these things, Parvo could potentially remain present on surfaces and in the environment for months. In some cases, you may want to consider throwing away disposable items altogether and starting fresh.

After your dog is free of infection, sanitize and clean your home and surroundings as best as possible. No sanitation method is fool proof against Parvo but some solution of bleach and water should help. Consult with your veterinary provider for recommendations. Remember too, that prompt and proper disposal of feces is critical to limit the spread of Parvo. When outdoors with an untrained or rambunctious puppy, be certain when he or she tries to greet another dog that you avoid any contact with that dog’s feces.

RIP Mahina Baclig

In some cases, Parvo is deadly. This was the unfortunate truth for a seven-week old pup named Mahina, adopted by Ben and Stephani Baclig. Benedict Baclig is a member of the United States Marine Corps. After excessive vomiting and displaying other worrisome symptoms, little Mahina was brought to the vet for emergency care where they confirmed that she had the Parvo virus. The Baclig family reached out to Dogs on Defense for a Pet Chit.

Despite intensive treatments and everyone’s best efforts, the dog passed away after three days. There is no question that Parvo is a serious disease worthy of attention. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Baclig family.

Patient Follow Up for Maximus

Dogs on Deployment granted an award to help pay for Max’s treatment; we are happy to now report that Maximus is better and doing very well!

Maximus, cured from Parvo, and acting like himself again!
Maximus, cured from Parvo, and acting like himself again!

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We talked with the Morris family about their difficult ordeal.

How is Maximus feeling these days?

Maximus is doing amazing! He’s been Parvo free for four months now and has just been the happiest and most energetic puppy. To our knowledge, there are no long term effects from the Parvo virus.

Was there anything that could have done been done differently to avoid Maximus getting Parvo in the first place?

No, not to our knowledge. Just as with any puppy, we were informed of his risk when we adopted him although Maximus had yet to show any signs of the disease. Unfortunately, Parvo can take a few weeks to kick in during which time dogs are asymptomatic.

Our advice is that owners should be health conscious and careful with their puppies when taking them to dog parks at such a young age. Without all necessary preventive shots pups are at risk of becoming infected with a number of diseases. Familiarize yourself with Parvo and be aware of what to look for. We got lucky and were able to catch it early enough so that we could help prevent Maximus’ dehydration and demise.

What lessons did you both learn from this experience?

The biggest lesson we learned was the importance of taking action quickly once Maximus started acting abnormally. We recognized that vomiting and diarrhea together with refusal to eat or drink any liquid was disastrous. At first we went and bought clear Pedialyte and started using a syringe to force it down his throat. Desperate to help, we then mashed up wet dog food with some water and tried to syringe-feed him that combination. Our next decision was to get Maximus to the vet ASAP.

Another very important lesson is that when you live in a warm weather climate year round the Parvo virus doesn’t have time to die off.  We would just tell people to be aware of this risk when adopting puppies from a shelter or pound in a warm weather climate. But this experience certainly has not deterred us from adopting again. We couldn’t imagine a world without the Yuma Humane Society!

Anything else to add?

Thank y’all so much! This was a great help. My wife Chelsea and I want to express our appreciation for the help that was provided. This has truly been a blessing, and we remain grateful for the efforts of Dogs on Deployment and its Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

Good boy, Maximus, good boy!
Good boy, Maximus, good boy!

The Importance of Charitable Donations to the DoD Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help When You’re in Need

Thanks to voluntary donations, the Dogs on Defense Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program has provided over $200K since 2011. The DoD funds its’ Pet Chit Program by using a portion of donations for qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need.

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, or in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, help with emergency boarding, homelessness or other extreme financial circumstance, as well as for transportation costs associated with an emergency or general PCS move.

Without the generous donations of our supporters, the Pet Chit program would not be possible. You may make a donation directly our Pet Chit program by donating at www.bit.ly/dod-donate and selecting Donate to the Pet Chit Fund from the drop down menu. You’ll be helping military pets like Banjo receive the necessary care they need.

To learn more about Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, or to apply for a grant, visit www.bit.ly/dod-petchit or contact us at petchit@dogsondeployment.org.

GiveNow

Veteran’s Dog Needs Life-Saving Treatment

We’re reaching out with an urgent appeal to help us save the life of Rocky, a dog adopted to a veteran in 2013 through Pets for Patriots, our partner in saving at-risk shelter pets by adopting them to military families.

Rocky

Rocky has been diagnosed with a stage three fibrous tissue sarcoma, deeply embedded under his left eye and extending forward to the left jaw. His adopted mom, Mary, is an Army veteran who sought multiple consults with leading veterinary oncologists to determine the best course of action for her beloved dog.

“Since August 9, 2013 I have not felt alone, been lonely or clinically depressed. Rocky is the best antidepressant ever! If I could have even two more years of his unconditional love, it would be well worth ten times the money.”

All of the options presented to Mary were bad to worse; each involved expensive and invasive surgery to remove significant portions of his jaw and possibly his left eye as well, in addition to aggressive radiation which would cause his skin to degenerate.

But there is hope!

Mary took Rocky to an oncologist specializing in radiosurgery, a non-invasive way to deliver targeted radiation with precision similar to a surgical procedure, minimizing negative impacts to surrounding healthy tissue. The oncologist estimates up to a two-year survival time, but Rocky the Magnificent needs surgery right away. He is scheduled for a CAT scan on April 16 and his first radiosurgery session the following week.

This surgery will change Rocky’s prognosis from mere months to as much as two years.

The estimated cost of the procedure, and related tests, medication and follow up visits is $8,700, which includes a generous discount in recognition of Mary’s service. Mary herself has already spent thousands for various consultations and this would leave her financially – and emotionally – bereft.

That’s where Dogs on Deployment and Pets for Patriots are teaming up. Together, we’re fundraising to cover the costs of Rocky’s treatment, giving his quality time with his veteran, he otherwise wouldn’t have.

Your donations to our Pet Chit Program, which has granted over $202,000 in financial grants to military families, matter for pets like Rocky and veterans like Mary. Please give to help provide life saving treatment to Rocky.

GiveNow

Story was originally posted here at Pets for Patriots’ Wet Nose Blog.

March Madness & The Final Four Have Nothing on Our Grateful Eight Military Families

Pet Chits Lead to Many Happy Reunions

Military members across this nation confront a multitude of problems during their careers; the last thing they need to worry about is their pet’s care during their service commitments. Dogs On Deployment promotes responsible, life-long pet ownership by military pet owners by advocating for military pet owner rights, providing educational resources and granting financial assistance (in the form of “Pet Chits” through our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program) for military pet owners, whenever possible. One of the ways these pet chits help our military members and their pets is by allowing them to reunite when PCS costs would have prohibited them from staying together.

Happy Spring Time and Thanks from the Grateful Eight

As of press time, we were unable to complete all playoff brackets for the beloved pets of our military families. Rather than the “Sweet Sixteen,” we offer these “Grateful Eight” recent pet chit success stories, in no particular order.

Rogue Rejoins Her Family

Michael Akins, United States Army, received orders to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The Akins family desperately wanted to take the family pet with them.

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“Rogue is like another child to us,” say the Akins.

The Akins have three children, ages 13, 9 and 1, who are deeply bonded with Rogue and couldn’t bear to be separated from her. “We agreed to do whatever it takes to get our dog over there with us, but would love the assistance. We only have one income at this time to support us due to the military relocation and would appreciate any help possible to cover Rogue’s travel expenses to Japan.” The Akins appreciated the pet chit of $1170 granted to their family.

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Rogue is a German Shepard with long ears that require the biggest travel kennel available. The Easter Bunny’s ears had nothing on her!

Meet Sadie, a Special Little Lady, and Big Part of Her Family

Patrick Herglotz, United States Marine Corps, tried to get his dogs back with him and the family upon return to the United States. “Bo,” one of the Herglotz family dogs, was taken in at just 13 weeks old. They later adopted Sadie from a family that no longer wanted her. The family insists, “we have been Sadie’s fourth owners and we will be her last!”

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“Sadie has been a wonderful dog – leaving her and Bo behind was not an option for us,” says the Herglotz Family.

They add that “PCSing can be very stressful and expensive. More than you can imagine, we would appreciate any help that is given to us during our move back to the states. We love the dogs very much and thank you for your consideration!” Fortunately, DoD was able to produce a pet chit for $2600 to help keep the entire Herglotz family together.

Mona Meows and Avoids a Cat – astrophe

Dogs on Deployment recognizes that cats are also special members of our military families! Upon receiving orders, Nathan Harrison, United States Air Force, and his wife Amber recently reported to Japan, but were unable to get a spot for their beloved cat, Mona.

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Mona’s beautiful coat could be considered a style of camouflage – how appropriate!

Anyone with a kitty could tell you that it’s just not the same when you can’t enjoy their purring and playing when you are together. And so we give equal props to Mona, the cat. The Harrisons gratefully accepted a pet chit for $1050 which they used for Mona’s transport.

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Mona makes a purr-fect addition to the Harrison family.

Dodge & Jax: Partners in Pet Chit Success

Jeffrey Finnesgard, United States Marine Corps, and wife Bernice were in need of a pet chit to help pay for flying their two dogs back to Rochester, Minnesota before the heat embargo started.

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This canine dynamic duo are partners ‘til the end.

Dogs on Deployment provided a pet chit for $2000 to make the trip back home possible.

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Dodge is a 3.5-year-old Okinawa mix.
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Jax is a 1.5-year-old mini bull terrier.

The Finnesgard Family told us, “this is fantastic — we are so grateful for the help!”

Mac: Man’s Best Friend, for Sure

Mac, the mostly-Husky, is best friend to Ronald Munsterman, United States Marine Corps, and an integral part of his family.

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Mac is the Munsterman fur baby, who helps make their world a happier place.

They requested a pet chit to help pay for transport, medical testing and quarantining that would enable Mac to come to Hawaii to join the Munsterman family. They always knew Mac was the dog for them, even after Mac’s initial rescue group suggested that perhaps the family wound want a pure bred husky instead of him. Based on Mac’s description over the phone alone, Ronald Munsterman replied, “that’s my dog. I’m coming to get him.”

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Mac is speechless about the DoD assistance.

The family was grateful for the pet chit of $920 that reunited them all. “We thought we were out of luck. This means the world to our family!” said the Munstermans.

Suki Seeks to Rejoin Her Family

Joseph LeSueur, United States Marine Corps, along with his family just received orders to return to America and report to Camp Pendleton this coming July.

Diego and Suki
Diego, son of GySgt Joseph L. LeSueur, USMC, and Suki, their family dog.

Suki the dog was not about to be left behind. In need of assistance with travel costs, the LeSeur family reached out to Sarah’s Pet Paradise, who offered some financial aid, but not enough for the single-income family.

Suki's birthday
Suki now looks forward to celebrating birthdays and more with the family.

Me and Suki

The LeSeur family was assisted with a Pet Chit for $380. “We’re so very grateful for your organization’s help with our move back to America,” they told DoD.

Zingo, the Dog, Benefits Too

Margaret O’Brien, United States Marine Corps, and her family received orders to report to Okinawa, Japan. Everyone, and especially the three young O’Brien family children are very attached to their wonderful dog, Zingo.

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Zingo, the O’Brien family dog, aka their “spoiled fur child.”

The stress of moving is difficult enough, but no one would bear the thought of not taking ZIngo with them to live elsewhere. Travel costs proved to be a problem at first for the single-income family.The family was aided with a pet chit for $1050, and is very appreciative. “We all would have been devastated without Zingo. Thank you so much,” added the O’Briens.

Violet Smells Sweet Pet Chit Success

Tiffany Gaustad, United States Air Force, and her family received orders to report to Germany. Violet, their dog, remained home in the United States at first since there was a lack of funds to transport her to Germany, and not enough room on the outgoing flights.

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Violet patiently waits on the Gaustad family reunion.

When space was at last available to fly out, the Gaustads turned to Dogs on Deployment for financial assistance. A pet chit in the amount of $1500 was granted to the Gaustads. They gratefully welcomed back Violet to make their family complete once more.

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Violet and the Gaustad family are back in the saddle again.

They gratefully welcomed back Violet to make their family complete once more, and “send their heartfelt thanks to DoD.”

A Little Giving Goes a Long Way

Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program has granted nearly $200,000 to help military families for help with their pets’ care during financial need. Nearly 75% of all incoming donations to Dogs on Deployment go directly to supporting military families.  In 2014, DoD granted nearly $28,000 in Pet Chits, and in 2015, we set a goal of $40,000. We succeeded their goal by nearly 300%, and granted nearly $120,000. This year, DoD has set a goal of granting $120,000; and we’re sure we can beat it again.

But not without your help.

One recipient of a Pet Chit wrote to our donors, “I would say that with all the terrible things happening around the world it is so heartwarming to know that there are people who want to help strangers out of the pure kindness of their heart. I think it speaks volumes about someone’s beliefs and priorities when they decide to help people and lessen their burden when they are not required to. I am so very grateful.”

Your contributions matter. Please give at www.bit.ly/dod-donate

 

Here She Is: Introducing Belle T634, 2016 Military Pet of the Year Contest Winner and DoD Mascot

It is with great happiness and pride that Dogs on Deployment announces its winner of the 2016 Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) Contest, and DoD Mascot, Belle T634!

Belle T634 - Photo by Jessica Wettstein (15)
Belle is a beautiful, five-year-old Labrador Retriever.   Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein      

 

 

 

No Ordinary Circumstances, One Extraordinary Dog

Belle was recently retired from the United States Marine Corps after four years of honorable service and one combat deployment to Afghanistan, where she served as an IDD (IED Detection Dog), commonly referred to as MWD (Military Working Dog), and honorably earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. She and her handler, Sgt. Sam Wettstein, United States Marine Corps, trained together for a year and served together for seven months overseas, assisting in the location and identification of improvised explosive devices, or bombs, in Afghanistan.

Belle was trained to forge ahead of her fellow marines and smell out bombs before they detonated; Sam was trained to sense and understand her reactions. Day in and day out, it was grueling for Sam and his fellow Marines as they worked and lived together in combat. Belle brought a sense of comfort and ease with her presence, boosting morale among the unit. “She helped a lot. It helped me to focus on Belle and her well-being,” recalls Sgt. Wettstein. One day was particularly physically and emotionally draining on them both, and after he and Belle returned to camp, Sam passed out on his cot. As the night grew darker, the temperature dropped to seven degrees and Belle crawled into his sleeping bag to keep them both warm. They awoke to find the dog’s water had frozen over in her water bowl. But the duo had managed to stay warm through the night because they had each other. The strong sense of trust and bond between them was undeniable, and they became inseparable.

Sgt. Sam Wettstein, with Belle T634. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

Parting and then Reuniting, Thanks to Mission K9 Rescue

Coming home from Afghanistan and having to be separated was very tough on both of them. Finding out that Belle had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), however, and that she was unable to work with other handlers opened up an opportunity for Sam to adopt Belle. He submitted numerous applications and called dozens of people in hopes of finding someone to help the battle buddies reunite. Fortunately, Mission K9 Rescue stepped in to answer the call, and began the process of reuniting the two veterans. Belle T634 was retired from the USMC after four years of honorable service.

Mission K9 Rescue works “To Rescue, Reunite, Re-Home, Rehabilitate and Repair any retired working dog that has served mankind in some capacity.” Mission K9 Rescue understands that indescribable bond between those four-legged heroes and their handlers. “Not only do our military members experience PTSD, but many of our MWDs do as well. Most often their handlers are the ones that know them best,” notes a spokesperson for the group.

Not all dogs are as lucky as Belle and get to come home to a loving family. It is rumored that Military Working Dogs’ futures are uncertain after their contracts expire. Going forward, Belle will work with Dogs on Deployment to support other IDDs and MWDs, campaigning for the safe return of all heroes, canine or human, and the reunion between handler and canine.

As the 2016 Military Pet of the Year and DoD Mascot, Belle will work with Dogs on Deployment to help advocate for other MWDs.‪ Here, she enjoys family time with the Wettstein family, including Sgt. Wettstein and his wife, Jessica. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

 

In addition, Belle T634 will enter to win the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards, http://herodogawards.org/ where Dogs on Deployment is listed as a charity partner under the Military Dog category. Belle asks that starting March 23rd at 12pm PST, you cast your vote in support of her, and Dogs on Deployment. The winning dog will receive $5,000 for their charity partner!

Sgt. Sam Wettstein, USMC, and Wife, Jessica Talk About Belle Winning the 2016 Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) Contest and Serving as a DoD Mascot

We asked this terrific family a few things about their feelings now and this new, amazing opportunity for Belle. Here’s what they graciously shared with us.

The Wettstein Family feels very grateful to have won the distinction of DoD Military Pet of the Year and Mascot. “This is such a great opportunity for Belle to share her story and to gain attention for Dogs on Deployment and all the amazing things they do for our military members and their pets, as well as to educate others about Military Working Dogs and their bond with their handlers. We are also very excited to win! We nervously awaited to see who had won the MPOTY competition, and actually found out when friends and family started calling to congratulate Belle. Our dog is looking forward to being showered with all the amazing and thoughtful gifts donated from sponsors across the country.”

Dogs on Deployment wondered why they think Belle won the competition. Jessica says, “I think Belle won because she has the ability to charm her way into anyone’s heart through her sweet demeanor, and because of her bravery and selflessness, demonstrated through her service to this country. She is such a beautiful lab with a story to tell and share, and a mission she and we – her fur parents – feel strongly about. It’s truly a blessing that she was able to be reunited with her former handler (Sam), and that we were able to adopt her into our family. But sadly, there are many military dogs out there just like her who get lost in the red tape and grey areas, and who aren’t able to be reunited with their handlers. These dogs aren’t just tools, they are battle buddies who share an inseparable, indescribable bond with their handlers.”

Belle T634, enjoying retirement. Photo Courtesy of Jessica Wettstein

 

There’s lots to look forward to now with Belle as the MPOTY 2016 and DoD Mascot. “We look forward to the wonderful opportunities that this next year holds,” said the Wettsteins. We are so excited to be a part of the Dogs on Deployment family and share Belle’s story, and to hopefully help MWDs and CWDs like her be reunited with their handlers. “

Sgt. Wettstein and wife, Jessica, along with Belle in her new role, can promote important causes now.

They told us, “back in 2014 Belle T634 was retired from the USMC after four years of honorable service, and that was when we were able to adopt her and reunite her with me Sam. This was only possible thanks to Mission K9 Rescue. They are such an amazing non-profit that works “To Rescue, Reunite, Re-Home, Rehabilitate and Repair any retired working dog that has served mankind in some capacity.” Mission K9 Rescue personally went and picked Belle up in North Carolina, then flew with her in the cabin across the United States (to comfort her PTSD in moving vehicles) where they personally handed her leash to Sam. They are so educated and passionate about these working dogs and make huge differences in the lives of many four-legged heroes every day. We are delighted to have a platform to be able to share the important news of this organization, and to hopefully help educate others about it!”

Pet Chit Success and a Tip of the Hat to Thor

Dogs on Deployment exists because of its ongoing efforts to keep military families together with their pets. Pretty amazing, especially when you factor in that everything is done by volunteers. DoD also helps provide financial assistance to military members for unexpected veterinary care or emergencies through its’ Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program.

DoD Pet Chit Voluntary Donor Program in Action

Shane Tully, United States Coast Guard, and his wife know first-hand how helpful our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program can be. While stationed in Virginia, the Tully family responsibly kenneled their beloved dog, Thor when they went on leave to visit relatives. Upon picking up Thor from the kennel it was clear that the dog was mistreated. He had been in an accident which caused damage to the cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) in his knee. The kenneling facility refused to be held accountable and Shane and his wife got the run around when they demanded answers.

Under different circumstances, Shane and his wife might have taken them to small claims court and pursued the matter. But Shane was set to deploy and his wife would be moving back to their state of residence along with their dog, who they just wanted to see well again. After x-rays and careful examination from veterinarians back home, it was determined that Thor would need surgery on his kneecap (TPLO). The Tully’s dog made a good candidate since he is just three years old. Successful surgery would mean that Thor’s quality of life would improve and he would be able to resume walking and playing with full pressure on his leg, without limping or pain.

The Tully Family sought out Dogs on Deployment to help cover the expensive cost of surgery. Thanks to a generous $500 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust and voluntary donations, Dogs on Deployment raised $2,850 to help make Thor’s knee surgery a success.

Banfield Grant-Thor

Thor’s TPLO surgery was left in the hands of a talented specialist, who restored the dog to optimal health. Thor is good as new, as you can see by watching him chill and licks his chops for the camera.

The Importance of Charitable Donations to the Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help

Thanks to voluntary donations, in 2015 alone the Dogs on Defense Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program provided over $125,000.00 in Pet Chits to military members. The DoD funds its’ Pet Chit Program by using a portion of donations for qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need.

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, or in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, help with emergency boarding, homelessness or other extreme financial circumstance, as well as for transportation costs associated with an emergency or general PCS move.

Without the generous donations of our supporters, our Pet Chit program would not be possible. You may make a donation directly our Pet Chit program by donating at www.bit.ly/dod-donate and selecting Donate to the Pet Chit Fund from the drop down menu. You’ll be helping military pets like Thor receive the necessary care they need.

To learn more about Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, or to apply for a grant, visit www.bit.ly/dod-petchit or contact us at petchit@dogsondeployment.org.

 

 

Banjo and His Blues Lead to Another Successful Pet Chit

Dogs on Deployment is already considered an awesome program because of its ongoing volunteer efforts to keep military family together with their pets. Did you also know that DoD helps by providing veterans financial assistance for unexpected veterinary care or emergencies through its’ Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program? That’s right. Can I get a “Paws-Up?!”

DoD Pet Chit Voluntary Donor Program in Action

Sean and Diane can attest to the importance of our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program. They had already experienced the heartbreak of parting with and having to find a home for their last dog, Zoe, when they were faced with a long deployment and unaware that Dogs on Deployment existed. After Sean returned from his deployment, he and Diane recognized that their home would not be complete until there was another four legged pup running around. They soon committed to getting a rescue dog this time, rather than one from a breeder. A week after Sean’s return home, the couple picked out a dog and named him Banjo.

He brought great joy to them both, but a great bond soon developed between Sean and Banjo.

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Not long ago, Banjo was playing with the neighbor’s dog – something he did on a regular basis since the two dogs played well together. But on one unfortunate day, the neighbor’s dog attacked Banjo and left him with serious lacerations over his body. Shocked by the event and upset over the severity of the wounds and bleeding, Sean and Diane rushed Banjo to the emergency vet. They discovered that emergency treatment was going to be expensive since it would include numerous stitches and require that a drain be placed in one of Banjo’s wounds to lessen the chance of infection. Banjo was now a beloved member of their family and they wanted to do the right thing. The dilemma over how to pay for Banjo’s care was only made worse by the fact that Diane is a full-time student.

The veterinary office manager met with Sean and Diane to discuss the treatment costs. Fortunately, at this point he also told them about the services of Dogs on Deployment! They had never heard of DoD but decided to reach out to seek financial assistance through its’ Pet Chit Program. All it took was completing the inquiry form on the Dogs on Deployment website. The couple was relieved and ecstatic to find that Dogs on Deployment was able to assist with the medical care and treatment for Banjo.

Banjo Now Humming Along

Banjo has now made a full recovery!

Sean and Diane report their dog has battle scars that now make him look like “a tough kid on the block,” but it’s okay.

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The couple has told us “we will always be grateful for what Dogs on Deployment stands for and the assistance they provide to military families including our four-legged fur baby, Banjo. ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem like enough to express our gratitude. We appreciate what you do! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The peace of mind and thoughtfulness you have provided will forever be remembered! Banjo sends lots of hugs!”

The Importance of Charitable Donations to Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help

Thanks to voluntary donations, in 2015 alone the Dogs on Defense Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program provided over $125,000.00 in Pet Chits to military members. The DoD funds its’ Pet Chit Program by using a portion of donations for qualifying military members for help with pet care during times of need.

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, or in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, help with emergency boarding, homelessness or other extreme financial circumstance, as well as for transportation costs associated with an emergency or general PCS move.

Without the generous donations of our supporters, the Pet Chit program would not be possible. You may make a donation directly our Pet Chit program by donating at www.bit.ly/dod-donate and selecting Donate to the Pet Chit Fund from the drop down menu. You’ll be helping military pets like Banjo receive the necessary care they need.

To learn more about Dogs on Deployment’s Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, or to apply for a grant, visit www.bit.ly/dod-petchit or contact us at petchit@dogsondeployment.org.

 

We Welcome Mrs. D’Arcy Neller as New Board Member and Guest Judge, 2016 Military Pet of the Year Contest

Dogs on Deployment proudly celebrates two announcements as we and our furry loved ones settle into Winter, 2016. We welcome Mrs. D’Arcy Neller, wife to the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, General Neller, highest ranking general in the Marines, and leader in the U.S. Department of Defense, as she joins Dogs on Deployment as an honorary board member for 2016. The esteemed Mrs. Neller will also participate as a guest judge in the upcoming Dogs on Deployment “2016 Military Pet of the Year” (MPOTY) contest.

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PIC CAPTION: Pictured above are friends of Dogs on Deployment, the Neller Family dogs. Their two beautiful Labrador Retriever mixes shown here, are big sister, Bailey on the left, and Maddy, the little sister, who by the way hates the snow! (It’s understandable, Maddy hails from the South!)

Mrs. D’Arcy Neller Talks About the Military, Pets, and the Importance of Volunteering

During a recent chat, we asked Mrs. Neller how it made her feel to be a part of Dogs on Deployment. She replied, “I find this program very exciting, and I’m thrilled to be an honorary board member for 2016. So many of our United States service members only have their pets, which makes it even harder to leave them for long periods of time. With the help and support of Dogs on Deployment and their volunteers, the dogs can be cared for and our service members needn’t be heartsick leaving their best friends behind.”

Mrs. Neller has been a military spouse for 40 years. Dogs have been a part of the Neller family household for all 40 years, and counting. Since her husband, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, General Neller is active duty and has travelled worldwide extensively throughout his illustrious career, Mrs. Neller has always considered dogs as great company. She recognizes their loyalty, and the joy they bring to her life every day, whether traveling in the car or just walking together. Mrs. Neller acknowledges that she “has always considered them a special part of the family,” and adds that there were times in the past when an organization like Dogs on Deployment would have been enormously helpful had it existed.

“There were times when our dogs came with us to Okinawa, Japan and to Belgium, for instance. But there were other times during overseas deployments when our dogs simply couldn’t accompany us,” said Mrs. Neller. At one point, she and General Neller were sent somewhere for seven months and had difficulty finding individuals to board their two dogs. Luckily for everyone, two of the Neller family friends, also fellow dog lovers, stepped up and were able to board and care for those dogs for the duration of the orders. Eventually the family was reunited after a long absence.

Mrs. Neller said she would have been extraordinarily upset if they had been unable to have their dogs boarded, adding that “an organization like Dogs on Deployment would have been the perfect solution!”

As for volunteering, Mrs. Neller feels it’s important for us all to get involved. “I believe that you can’t wait for the community to embrace you, you have to wholeheartedly embrace it – whether you are military or civilian. We all must do what we can as individuals to pay it forward. Plus, there is tremendous self-satisfaction from volunteering,” said Mrs. Neller.

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PIC CAPTION: Mrs. Neller happily acknowledges that dogs are part of the family! Shown above here are adorable sisters Bailey and Maddy, both rescue dogs.

D’Arcy Neller Becomes Guest Judge for Upcoming Dogs on Deployment “2016 Military Pet of the Year” (MPOTY) Contest

D’Arcy Neller exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism through her many service activities. For the upcoming DoD “2016 Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY)” Contest, Mrs. Neller will join us as we review all of the current individual nominees. During this annual event, we invite all military members to proudly show off their pets, and their families. Then, together as a community, we choose a new mascot dog to represent the Dogs on Deployment mission, and serve as the new 2016 MPOTY.

How about a round of applause for Mrs. Neller as she participates in DoD service and activities throughout 2016?! Or should that be spelled “a round of a-paws?”