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From Tragedy to Triumph: Abigail Conquers Evil to Emerge as a Teacher and Hero

Bonnets for Abigail Supports Dogs on Deployment

Vote for Abigail Today to Receive the Hero Dog Award and We All Win

Meet sweet Abigail!

 

Dogs on Deployment is all about helping hands and paws. Everyone at Dogs on Deployment gets to meet people from other organizations that love, represent, and advocate for pets and other animals in various ways. People like Victoria Frazier, of Love is Fur Ever, a non-profit dog rescue in south Florida. She rescued a young dog from a shelter who was the victim of dog fighting.

Now, together with the healed, rehabilitated and lovely Abigail of Bonnets for Abigail, she wants to help Dogs on Deployment continue its important mission of assisting active military members and their family pets. And we all want to help end and raise awareness of dog fighting, which nearly killed Abigail, and which claims the lives of hundreds of dogs daily.

Abigail has been nominated for the 2017 American Humane’s Emerging Hero Dog award, supporting Dogs on Deployment, and needs your vote!  Show your support! Click here http://herodogawards.org/dog/abigail/ and vote for Abigail now and every day through June 28.

Young Abigail: Left for Dead

ABIGAIL – BEFORE & AFTER

Abigail, found mutilated from dog fighting.
Abigail today.

Victoria and her fellow volunteers routinely visit shelter dogs with the goal to rescue, foster them, and ultimately have them adopted by a permanent, forever family. They’ve seen many dogs who’ve been neglected, abandoned and abused, including Abigail, a Pit bull (which technically covers various breeds of terriers who were given this “nickname”), pulled from a shelter November 2016 and barely alive. “This poor girl’s condition after the level of abuse she suffered was just about the worst we’d seen,” said Victoria.

At a young age, Abigail was used as bait in dog fights. She was a victim of circumstance who certainly did not ask for the life she was forced to live. Before being brought into the shelter, she lost the entire right side of her face, including her ear, and her skin had been ripped off right down to the eardrum.

Abigail was left with an infection so bad that she nearly died from sepsis alone. She was also found to be anemic, infested with ticks, covered in old, dried mud, and scars which covered Abigail’s bloody head, neck and back legs.

 

 

Relief & Recovery

Victoria immediately noted Abigail’s disposition, and said, “she was sweet from the onset and required no special behavioral intervention. Within a couple of days of Abigail’s rescue, you’d never know she endured the type of abuse that she clearly did.” Abigail is a true ambassador, who best illustrates what makes the Pit bull breed so special and beloved. She harbored no ill will against any person or other animal, and responded to kindness by being kind and loyal.

Victoria took Abigail to highly skilled veterinarian Thomas Jackson, DVM, who ultimately performed 10 surgeries on the dog. She required constant wound care and frequent hospitalizations.

Abigail, post-surgery. Dr. Jackson performed over 10 operations on her.

It was during one of the dog’s many bandage changes that Dr. Jackson with veterinary technician Destiny realized the bandages were being held and shaped above Abigail’s head in a way resembling a bonnet. Right there, Bonnet’s for Abigail was born and since then, Abigail and her bonnets have begun to change the world. She can be found on Facebook @BonnetsForAbigail where she has over 15,000 followers.

 

Day 17 of Abigail’s journey included the first of many operations involving a skin graft. Eventually, under Dr. Jackson’s expertise Abigail’s face was recreated using some of the skin from her back. The tireless efforts of Dr. Jackson and his team gave the dog a chance to survive and even thrive. The last of her surgeries was a much needed spay, from which Abigail recovered nicely, and which brought her that much closer to being formally adopted.

Abigail with Victoria Frazier.

 

Abigail Blooms: Full of Love, Full of Life

News of Abigail’s struggles and rehabilitation spread worldwide. People became anxious to know more about what they can do to stop senseless dog fighting, and how to help its victims. While temporarily staying with Victoria and her foster family, Abigail started to enjoy wearing handmade bonnets sent to her from hundreds of people.

Bonnets, bonnets. bonnets!

“We couldn’t get over the response,” said Victoria. “At first it was a trickle of bonnets, and then we were bombarded by people all over the world wanting to help Abigail any way they can. Her supporters all get such a kick out of seeing her pose in one of their bonnets. Plus, if we don’t keep up with Abigail’s social media profiles, they are quick to check in, asking ‘Is Abigail OK’!”

Fortunately, over six months since her rescue by Victoria, Abigail is doing great. She is happy and healthy, and is anxiously waiting for Love is Fur Ever to make the final decision on her adoptive family. Many families applied, and the field was narrowed down to two, either of whom would make wonderful fur-parents for Abigail. Soon, she’ll go on to a live a stable, safe and loving life. One criteria is that her new family help manage her Facebook following!

 

Abigail didn’t need therapy. Abigail is the therapy.

Abigail with some of her new friends.

She loves people and loves dogs. She has a mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting.

We can do this. We must.

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

Top Dog

As part of her mission to continue to teach forgiveness and end dog fighting, Abigail has been nominated for an award which would make her a universal ambassador and spokesperson for dog fighting.

The American Humane Hero Dog Awards is an annual campaign that recognizes heroes on both ends of the leash. We’re honored to announce that Abigail has made it through to the second round of voting. She stands a very good chance of being selected “Winner” in the category of Emerging Hero Dog at the upcoming American Humane’s Annual Hero Dog Awards Ceremony and Show, and maybe even the overall Top American Hero Dog. But Abigail NEEDS YOU TO ROCK THE VOTE – PLEASE DO SO! JUST CLICK HERE. http://herodogawards.org/dog/abigail/  Voting is open now through 12pm Pacific Time on June 28.

Best of all, Victoria has selected Dogs on Deployment as her Charity Partner in the Hero Dog Awards process.

Happy Days!

This means if Abigail is selected in the top eight finalists, American Humane will donate $2500 to Dogs on Deployment.

If Abigail wins the top honors and title of American Hero Dog, an additional $5,000 will be awarded to Dogs on Deployment! A win-win for all!

In Service to our Country: A Common Bond

When Victoria first heard of Dogs on Deployment she couldn’t believe the stories of active duty military members who felt forced to surrender their pets to an unknown fate simply because they had to fulfill a service mission. Victoria comes from and married into a military family. She completely understands what life is like for members of the various United States armed forces, and hates the thought that anyone serving the country would abandon their pet.

We thank Victoria for sharing her story, and we love you Abigail!

That’s why she and Bonnets for Abigail support our mission completely. Dogs on Deployment is grateful for the acknowledgement. Win or lose, we know Abigail is destined to do great things as a teacher and hero dog.

Congratulations, and  Good Luck Abigail!

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Dogs on Deployment (DoD) is an all-volunteer, national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing critical resources to support United States service members and their pets by providing a much-needed connection between individuals and families willing to board pets and military members whose service puts their pets at risk of abandonment. DoD offers online resources that help military members find loving, safe foster homes for their animals, allowing them to serve our country with one less worry. DoD exists to help military members keep their pets by alleviating the need for pet relinquishment from military members due to the hardships of deployments.

 

 

 

Dogs on Deployment 2017 MPOTY Winner is Tanzie!

Dogs on Deployment is excited and proud to announce that our 2017 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot is Tanzie!

TANZIE, the Dogs on Deployment mascot and winner of our 2017 MPOTY Contest. All photos courtesy Katie Ward.

Tanzie will Excitedly Represent Dogs on Deployment as the Mascot, and Winner of our 2017 Military Pet of the Year Contest

Dogs on Deployment Makes it Official:  2017 MPOTY Winner is Tanzie!

Each year Dogs on Deployment holds a contest in search of one very special dog to serve as our mascot and be the face of the organization. We agree that every dog is special. But some dogs, like Tanzie, uniquely embody all the characteristics we hold dear in a pet, and through their circumstances, teach us important, compelling lessons. In this case, Tanzie and her owners share the dog’s incredible journey, and now help raise awareness as together they advocate for animal rescue.

Who’s That Girl?

Tanzie began her life as a stray, known only as “Tag 384,” on the war-torn streets of Sarajevo, the capital of what is now referred to as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was there in Sarajevo, where Katie Gar Ward, Technical Sergeant, United States Air Force, first saw the dog outside the installation where she was working.

Katie Ward, Technical Sergeant, USAF, befriends a dog in Sarajevo, known then only as “puppy-girl.”

Katie was able identify to this dog as one of many local strays because of the tag marking on its ear. Animals were periodically brought in by the Bosnian authorities to be given a rabies vaccine, spayed/neutered, tagged, documented, and returned to the streets. It was the best outcome many of them could hope for. Most of the stray animal population fared worse, roaming hungry, ignored, and often abused.

Whenever she could, Katie soon began to look for “puppy girl,” as she affectionately nicknamed her, and when the dog surfaced, would reward her little furry friend with belly rubs, playtime, food, treats, and attention that the homeless dog so desired. Katie, who already had two dogs back in the States with husband Walker, admitted to falling in love with this blond, brindle, beautiful mixed-breed puppy, and knew she had to do more.

Tanzie herself said, “Little did I know, I would eventually have a home with her, my daddy, and my furry brother and sister in the USA!”

Katie & Walker Ward, President and Vice President of “The Tanzie Project,” pose with their beloved fur-kids.

After careful consideration and deliberation, the Wards decided originally to bring “Tanzie” to the United States to find a home for her. But Katie and husband, Walker Ward have admitted, “deep down, we knew it was going to be with us.” Katie had to track down which veterinarian had tagged the dog and then obtain her vital paperwork. The vets in Bosnia removed the tag on Tanzie’s ear a few days before she flew home to begin her new life in America, back on January 12, 2015. While neither Katie nor the original vet could be sure, it’s believed that Tanzie was born early, 2014; they estimate her age as of early 2017 to be about three years old.

Tanzie has brought her family so much love and joy.

Home, Sweet Home

Little did Tanzie know what awaited her, and little did she know what influence she and her adoptive pet parents, the Wards would soon yield. Once she arrived in the United States, Tanzie was warmly welcomed into her new household by her new pack mates and “siblings,” brother Benji, now 13 years old, and sister, Bella, six.

Tanzie had to adjust to being in a household with her siblings all day while her parents were at work. Katie, in fact, remained in Sarajevo for weeks finishing an assignment. Despite some destructive episodes – which included digging endless holes in the yard and all around the property – Tanzie soon settled in and relished her new forever home, which had to be a welcome relief. Katie thinks that Tanzie fell into domestic bliss and began to recognize her place in the family, in part from watching Benji and Bella.

It was quite easy for Benji and Bella to fall in love with Tanzie.

The gang gets along great!
They are now the best of friends!

The Quest to Help Others: The Tanzie Project is Born

While she was still in Sarajevo, getting the wheels in motion to somehow bring Tanzie to the U.S., Katie said, “I reached out to many, many organizations to see if they would help me find the means to bring even more dogs back from Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

One such organization was The Puppy Rescue Mission, (http://www.puppyrescuemission.com/) a U.S-based animal welfare group, whom Katie described as her “shot-in-the-dark.” Working together, they successfully rescued and sent nine Bosnian street dogs to the States, where all were eventually adopted in their forever homes.

Building upon their successful efforts for Tanzie and a few of the other dogs, the Wards were determined to help more dogs, and did just that. Initially, they began a Facebook page to raise funds to help buy food for Bosnia’s strays. Soon, with some encouragement from their new friends at The Puppy Rescue Mission, the Wards said, they “took a leap of faith and decided to make their efforts official,” thereby turning their passion into purpose and establishing a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Tanzie Project was born, with the goal of finding homes for as many forgotten, mistreated street dogs as possible.

Good Dog, Good Deeds

We caught up with the beautiful Tanzie herself, who will have a busy year ahead of her as the ambassador for Dogs on Deployment!

Tanzie told us, “I really appreciate getting to share how “pawsitively” happy I am to be American!”

Surf’s up!!!

Tanzie also said, “in my first year in the USA, I swam in the ocean, climbed a mountain, rode in an elevator (wow, THAT was weird!!), went on a camping trip, rode on a boat (that was my favorite), and went wine tasting, to mention a few of my most favorite “firsts!

Thank you Dogs on Deployment, for the opportunity to be your 2017 Military Pet of the Year!!! And thanks to all the ‘pawesome’ people who voted for me and believed in my cause…I ‘pawmise’ I won’t let you down!!

Dogs on Deployment gives Tanzie “four-paws-up!” We know she will spread cheer and good will wherever she represents us this year. Our gratitude and congratulations to Katie and Walker Ward, Benji, Bella, and most of all, Tanzie.

For details on The Tanzie Project, Tanzie’s American Journey “from street, to chic,” and more information on the efforts of the Ward family to aid dogs known as Bosnia’s strays, please visit http://www.thetanzieproject.org/.

 

Life-Saving Spay/Neuter Programs & Pet Chit Updates

 

Military Members Receive DoD Pet Chits & Support when Seeking Veterinary Care

 

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

Dogs on Deployment Pet Chits have helped military members with veterinary expenses, including the costs of spaying and neutering. It’s part of our responsibility to emphasize the importance of these procedures, particularly now as the Humane Society of the United States prepares to celebrate World Spay Day on February 28, 2017. (See http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/spay_day/?referrer=https://www.google.com/ for details).

Veterinarians have determined:

  • Spaying our female pets and neutering our male pets helps us to prevent further pet overpopulation. Overpopulation in shelters leads to senseless euthanasia every single day.
  • Spaying females helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors – which are malignant or cancerous in roughly 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying female pets before their first heat (when they become reproductive) will offer them the best protection from these diseases.
  • Neutering our male pets prevents diseases like testicular cancer and some prostrate problems. It can also help eliminate behavioral issues like urinating to “mark,” or designate a spot.

 

SNAP to It

To help educate and assist military pet owners in spaying and neutering their companion animals, Dogs on Deployment has partnered in San Diego, CA with the Spay Neuter Action Project (SNAP). The efforts of Rich Setzer, DoD Coordinator in San Diego, made this possible. He takes every opportunity to publicize the program and to educate active duty personnel.

 

 

Rich Setzer had specific goals in mind when he initiated the DoD partnership with San Diego SNAP. He sought to:

  • Inform the local military community about Dogs on Deployment;
  • Publicize our financial assistance Pet Chit assistance program;
  • Provide a way for junior enlisted service members (E-6 and below) to get their pets spayed or neutered at no cost to them; and,
  • Spend the DoD Pet Chit funds in the most effective way possible.

After laying the groundwork, and having multiple discussions to work out the details, the Mil-SNAP program was rolled out in October 2016.

Rich says, “now whenever someone calls SNAP to schedule surgery, among the first questions their Intake Coordinators ask is whether the pet owner is military — and what their pay grade is. If that pet owner qualifies, SNAP staff informs them about the Mil-SNAP program, and provides them with access to a Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit application.”

Many military families who have benefited from Pet Chit assistance expressed their gratitude to SNAP, to DoD, and Rich in particular — see some of their happy Pet Chit updates in the stories that follow!

 

Successful Pet Chit Stories & Spay/Neuter Updates

 

Hatchie the Husky – Torres Family

“Hatchie came to us after he was abandoned. Siberian Huskies, as we found out, are known to be great escape artists,” said Lucy Torres, E-6, of the US Coast Guard. “Since he was already a three year old dog, Hatchie needed to be neutered right away. Through the SNAP program we found Dogs on Deployment. The procedure was easy, and the people involved at SNAP took care of Hatchie as if he was part of their own family.”

“The dog was groggy for a while post-surgery, and for the following week had to wear his ‘cone of shame.’ After that though, Hatchie was able to return to his favorite activities and he continues to get to know and enjoy us, his new family. Thanks Dogs on Deployment!”

 

Jager the Dog – Atnip Family

“Jager is honored to be part of your blog,” says Chelsea Atnip, wife of Daniel Atnip, E-5, of the US Coast Guard. Dogs on Deployment makes it so much easier for military families to take care of their fur babies – thank you so much for considering us!”

 

 

Jager is an awesome, seven-month-old mixed breed dog, who loves playing with his older buddy Spaz, as well as sometimes harassing the kitty. He has tons of energy and loves going for hikes. Post his neuter procedure, Jager had to wear the protective cone, but healed very well and is doing great. He can again enjoy trips to the beach, which is a favorite spot. Chelsea added, “we are so grateful to DoD and to the wonderful people at SNAP for offering such a great program for our family! Thanks again!”

 

Winter the Cat – Barber Family

Winter is a beautiful, female Norwegian Forest Mainecoon mix cat, who belongs to Margaret and Michael Barber, E-3, US Coast Guard. She was recently spayed through the SNAP program. “Thank you,” says Margaret Barber.

“The SNAP group was professional, extremely organized and efficient. Winter received a blue soft cone collar after surgery, and her recovery was wonderful. Watching her shaved belly fill back in only took about a week. I’ve already recommended SNAP to a few other military families in need of spay and neuter services for their pets.”

 

More Gratitude for Spay & Neuter Successes

Gonzalez Family: Juan Colon Gonzales, US Coast Guard, indicated that his family had two male dogs, neither of which was previously neutered. They used SNAP to neuter both their Husky, and their Pomerian, Jack, pictured here.

 

Tandoc Family: Jusper Tandoc, E-4, US Coast Guard and family had their dog Cujo (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

Melendez Family: Jonathan Melendez, E-4, US Marine Corps and his family had their dog Milo (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

Snyder Family: Lukas Snyder, E-5, US Coast Guard and wife, Haley had their dog Max (pictured below) neutered with SNAP.

 

 

REMIND YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TO SPAY AND NEUTER! 

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Dogs on Deployment Cheers Belle T634

 

Military Pet of the Year 2016 Recipient Marches On

Every dog has his or her day, and in our case, every dog has its year!

Dogs on Deployment cheers on as Military Pet of The Year 2016 Recipient Belle T634 and proud owners, Sam and Jessica Wettstein, step aside to make way for the soon to be announced winner of the MPOTY 2017 contest.

It has been a banner year for the beloved Belle, our current Dogs on Deployment MPOTY 2016 and mascot. She is shown here with Sgt. Sam Wettstein.

 

Well Wishes and Questions with Sam and Jessica Wettstein, Belle’s Family

Dogs on Deployment bids a fond farewell to Military Pet of The Year 2016 Recipient Belle T634, and her proud owners, Sam and Jessica Wettstein. Sam serves as Sgt., USMC. Belle originally served as a military work dog for her handler, Sgt. Wettstein. The duo trained together for a year and served together in the USMC for seven months overseas.

Sam and Jessica Wettstein shared their thoughts on what life was like after Belle was named MPOTY 2016.

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

What was your favorite thing about Belle being named MPOTY 2016?

“We loved the opportunities Dogs on Deployment gave us to share Belle and Sam’s story. Even though she is now retired, Belle had a new purpose and was still able to help others by sharing her story.

We also loved being welcomed into a new family — the Dogs on Deployment family. We made friends all over the country that we now have for life!

Belle would like to add that one of her favorite things was all the gifts she received from her sponsors! There were treats, paintings, a new custom bed, new collars, a cuddle clone, and so much more. The outpouring of love was overwhelming and Belle wants us to say thank you on her behalf!”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

During Belle’s reign as MPOTY 2016, you all had a chance to travel, acting as “Good Will Ambassadors” for DoD. Were there any surprises?

“We traveled the United States, making it a point to tell everyone about the mission of Dogs on Deployment. It surprised us greatly that many people still hadn’t heard about this amazing program.

We enjoyed educating others on the important “No Dog Left Behind” DoD philosophy, and demonstrating how that relates to military family pets, and our family — specifically, we spoke on the unification of retired working dogs and their handlers.

On one trip to Colorado, Jessica was shopping in Denver and she happened upon a “Dog Is Good” display in a local pet boutique. Sure enough, there front and center, was the specially designed shirt inspired by Belle! You should have seen the surprise on her face and the excitement getting to share the story about it with the storeowners and shoppers!”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

The Military Pet of the Year program enables Dogs on Deployment to raise awareness for responsible pet ownership.  What did you learn and share about responsible pet ownership?

“It’s disheartening to learn how many pets are re-homed every year due to military deployments, training and moves. Dogs on Deployment is an amazing non-profit, but is only effective if others know about it and utilize it! So, it’s about getting the word out there.

Belle loved utilizing social media to share her day to day life, but she also used her platform to raise awareness that no matter what, no dog (or pet) should be left behind!

Having such a large platform to raise awareness about Mission K9 Rescue was such a blessing. Their assistance in reuniting Belle and Sam after their combined service in Iraq, has forever changed our lives. Since Belle gained some attention serving as MPOTY 2016, Sam was presented with the opportunity to volunteer and train service dogs with Labs for Liberty. This led to his work creating a program at his university, uniting Labs for Liberty and the University, and even a featured article in the Alumni Magazine. One small title of MPOTY has had such a large domino effect on our family, changing our lives for the better, and hopefully impacting others as well.”

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

Were there any particular people / events that stood out, and why?

“Yes – one event that stood out to us was attending the Hero Dog Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills this past summer. We can’t express enough what an amazing opportunity that was to have been nominated in the top three of the military dog category out of all the nominees across the country. Even though Belle didn’t win, it was so much fun to gather with all our DoD friends at the event, to meet such other incredible dogs, hear others stories, and to share ours.

Throughout 2016, we worked with many outstanding volunteers, including DoD -founders, Shawn and Alicia Johnson. To finally put faces to names was something we never thought was possible! Belle loved being loved by everyone, and immensely enjoyed her photo shoot for “Dog is Good” for her Belle-inspired shirt.

Most especially, Belle enjoyed dancing the night away with daddy, Sam at the Hero Dog Awards, dressed in her red-carpet attire!”

 

Belle left her fatigues behind. She effortlessly handled the pupp – arazzi with grace and dignity as MPOTY 2016 for Dogs on Deployment.

 

DOGS ON DEPLOYMENT: 

What advice would you have for the upcoming MPOTY 2017 mascot? 

“Dive right in and enjoy every moment of this experience! It can be slightly scary putting your whole story out there for everyone to see and hear, but know that it’s for a great cause. Share as much good will and news as you can on your social media, and take every opportunity to spread the word about Dogs on Deployment!

We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing year, and are grateful to now have so many wonderful friends!”

 

Help Military Members and Their Pets

Dogs on Deployment is a national non-profit which provides a network for military members to search for volunteers willing to board their pets during their service commitments.

DoD aims to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. One way we spotlight this goal is by hosting our annual Military Pet of the Year competition where our winner will be the Dogs on Deployment Mascot for one year, signifying their military owner’s commitment to a healthy, engaged lifestyle with their pet.

Pet Chit Success Means Bailey Can Bounce Back

Dogs Like Bailey Help with PTSD

After completely tearing her ACL, Bailey, a Siberian Husky and beloved pet of Erik and Jennifer Comstock, required veterinary surgery to repair it. With the help of the Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program, Bailey’s family was able to schedule the operation and it was a success.

 

Beautiful Bailey, a Siberian Husky and member of the Comstock Family
Beautiful Bailey, a Siberian Husky and member of the Comstock Family

 

The Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program (https://www.dogsondeployment.org/index.php?/financial_assistance/guest_petchit_register#register_tabs1) has helped hundreds of military service members meet the costs of unexpected veterinary care and emergencies since the organization was first started, granting a grand total of over $250,000 and counting! DoD has also proudly helped deploy over 1012 – so far! – dogs and pets of all kinds, reuniting them with U.S. military families stationed around the world.

Bailey’s story is significant since this beautiful dog has helped co-owner/co-parent Erik Comstock, E-4 veteran of the United States Army, cope with some of the anxiety and depression brought on by PTSD, and the frustrations of back and hip pain which have so far required him to undergo surgery twice. Eric is now a disabled veteran who served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We are grateful to Eric for his service, and thank him and his wife, Jennifer for sharing their story.

 

A Powerful Bond with Man’s Best Friend

Bailey was rescued along with the other lucky dogs who are part of the Comstock family. One other Husky and two Pomeranians round out the pack. Bailey is roughly two years old, adores her playmate “Dory,” (also a Husky) and loves running around as much as a typical Husky does – which is a lot! Jennifer refers to the running laps Bailey does around the yard as “zoomies!” Beyond that, it seems Bailey knows that she has an important mission to fulfill.  Says Jennifer, “Bailey has truly become Erik’s best friend. Whenever Bailey thinks Erik is upset and struggling with the many effects of his PTSD, she forces him to pet her and then gives him non-stop kisses to try to relax him.”

 

Bailey, shown here with playmate/sister Dory to her right, and other siblings Jazmine and McKenzie, to Bailey's left side.
Bailey, shown here with playmate/sister Dory to her right, and other siblings Jazmine and McKenzie, to Bailey’s left side.

 

Initially, Eric couldn’t figure out why Bailey paid him this level of attention. The dog literally would demand that Eric pet her by getting in his space, sitting right in front of him, staring and pawing at him. Eventually, he and his wife realized that Bailey behaved this way every single time she sensed that Eric was getting upset over something. Bailey’s way of calming him down and deescalating the situation was to make Eric stop doing anything and have him only pay attention to her. And while Eric questioned it at first, he and Jennifer eventually made the connection and realized that Bailey’s presence did in fact make a difference in their lives.

Jennifer continues, “since coming into our home, this incredible dog has done everything in her power to help Eric. In return, we want to do everything in our power to help her!”

 

Injury, Surgery, Recovery

Bailey the escape artist got out from under the 6-foot fence in the Comstock’s yard one night and temporarily went missing. About seven hours later, neighbors alerted the family that Bailey had been found and they were all united. It soon became apparent to Eric and Jennifer, however, that Bailey was hurt. They gave her a couple of weeks’ time to heal, but seeing Bailey limp after her “zoomies” made it clear that the dog required veterinary care. X-rays revealed the torn ACL, and the determination was made that she would require extensive surgery.

After Bailey was injured, the Comstock family reached out to Dogs on Deployment for help covering their hefty vet bill. They applied in late August, 2016. Within two days of receiving their application, Dogs on Deployment was able to approve and apply a grant of $980.00 to help cover the surgery! We give thanks to our donors and sponsors who make this possible, and remind you that anyone can donate at www.bit.ly/dod-donate.

 

POST-OP: Bailey rests with her leg bandaged and cone to keep her safe.
POST-OP: Bailey rests with her leg bandaged and cone to keep her safe.

 

On October 3, 2016, Bailey underwent surgery for her torn ACL, which according to the attending veterinarian, was really, really bad.” With Bailey’s successful surgery behind them, the Comstock family has to give her time to heal, in this case about three-four weeks’ time. You can be sure though that going forward Bailey will resume active duty — attending to and loving Eric as best she can.

 “All she wants to do is make sure Erik is feeling better and she will do anything she can to make sure it happens,” said Jennifer.  Go Bailey, go!

The Pet Chit Program & How to Get Help

A Pet Chit Award may be given pre-deployment, in a time of emergency such as an unexpected illness or injury, to 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 Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit Financial Assistance 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. 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.

 

Dogs on Deployment Proudly Celebrates Its 5-Year Anniversary!

Dog – gone!  Can it be?  The Dogs on Deployment organization           celebrated its 5-year anniversary June, 2016

The initial idea to help military service members by offering to board their pets for them started out as a tiny seed and has grown into a mighty tree, with branches all across the United States.

For anyone who may not already know, the two people behind that idea are Dogs on Deployment co-founders Alisa Johnson and Shawn Johnson. Alisa serves as President, Dogs on Deployment and active duty Captain in the United States Marine Corps, while her husband Shawn serves as Vice President, Dogs on Deployment and active duty Lieutenant in the United States Navy.

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The Johnsons at work, along with their faithful companions.

 

We chatted recently with Alisa Johnson about the growth and success of Dogs on Deployment these last five years, and where Team DoD plans to go from here.

Editor:

Tell us how it feels to see how DoD has grown five years later. Did you realize in its humble beginning how the organization would flourish and eventually help thousands of military members and their beloved pets?

Alisa:

DoD has grown from a team of two – Shawn and I – to a fantastic Board of Trustees of 10 members, including Mrs. D’Arcy Neller, wife to the US Marine Commandant, and many other fantastic military, veteran and military spouses that have been with our organization now for several years. The fact that these individuals, along with nearly 50 Local Coordinators running Chapters across the nation and over 30,000 registered DoD Boarders, have opened up their hearts to the mission of Dogs on Deployment leaves me absolutely honored, and humbled.

I never thought that my idea to try to make a difference would result in such an impact, not only on those we help (the military pet owners) but on those that sacrifice their time and service to help us. We are told repeatedly that volunteering for DoD in any capacity is its own reward!

JD is part of the Johnson Family. He also serves as Chief Canine Officer, (CCO) Dogs on Deployment.

Editor:

How do things look now for Dogs on Deployment? What’s the growth strategy for DoD over the next five or so years? What do you envision for DoD down the road?

Alisa:

Dogs on Deployment is an online-based platform. Our most important function is our boarding network, which uses a custom web application that connects service members to the volunteers willing to foster their pets.

Like many not-for-profit organizations, our biggest challenge is keeping up with technology. We are currently working to make our website better, easy to use, more mobile friendly and even develop a mobile application for iOS.

Team DoD continues to build on the foundation we’ve created over the last five years. We also continue to work to foster beneficial relationships with communities and businesses in order to create and enable resource sharing to benefit military pet owners.

In the long term, I’d like to see us go international. We have thousands of service members and their families stationed overseas all over the world. Someday in the next 10 years, I envision DoD being the only international foster network benefiting US military members!

Neller Family dogs Bailey and Maddy. They serve as honorary Board Members along with their Mom, Mrs. D’Arcy Neller. We are proud to have them all involved!

Editor:

You and the Board of Trustees have succeeded in developing an organization that is well structured and going strong, despite any obstacles you have encountered along the way. To what do you attribute DoD’s success?

Alisa:

I attribute DoD’s success to our mission: give military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources able to help them.

The fact is, in creating a 100% all-volunteer organization you recognize that every person’s time is limited. At the end, that limitation can affect those we aim to help – the military member. However, given the fact that so many of our volunteers are active duty, veterans or military spouses themselves, we understand the importance of our volunteer jobs and keeping the organization running smoothly.

Everything from our marketing plan, to our fundraising efforts, to our local events, to our customer service affects the military member we’re trying to help.  Every aspect and function is backed by someone who truly believes at their core in our mission.

PrintEditor:
How can everyone already involved in Dogs on Deployment improve upon our success and make it even better?

Alisa:

Understanding and respect for one another’s time is key. In this business model, it’s too often that volunteers can fill burnt out and under-appreciated. My personal goal is to not allow this to happen in Dogs on Deployment.

Being able to work together as a team, appreciate each others efforts and truly believe and support one another makes our volunteer network a FAMILY. I can say beyond a doubt that my heart is full of love for every person in the organization that I have worked with, some for up to five years now.

The generosity and support our family gives to one another, despite many of us never having met in person, is overwhelming. We all have one thing in common, and that’s the common love for dog and country. It’s that love that brings us together in a strong, familial network which aims to promote and supporting Dogs on Deployment.

Want to know more? Captain Alisa Johnson, President, CEO and Co-Founder of Dogs on Deployment spoke about her efforts and dedication to Dogs on Deployment earlier this year at “Clever Talks.”  The video is available through YouTube — just clink on the link here to see it:

https://youtu.be/a9cU-oK601s

Keep track of the Dogs on Deployment blog, Facebook Page and Twitter feed! Want to volunteer? Just sign in at our website www.dogsondeployment.org – have your dog fetch the ball  —  and get the ball rolling!

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

Vet Noise Makes Some Noise for Dogs on Deployment

YVBC puppy with banner
This little guy makes a perfect addition to the DoD booth, don’t you think?

More often than not, our fundraising events are amazing. We have fantastic volunteers, super supporters, and of course, adorable animals. Still, every once in a while, an event is worth stopping to highlight because it’s extra special.

A lot of planning, organization and coordination went into the fundraiser at Young Veterans Brewing Company, last month. It started with the Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team (HRMRT), a local real estate company that works with assisting military families.

Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team presents a check to our volunteers after the event
Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team presents a check to our volunteers after the event

HRMT (FB) has established a foundation, Vet Noise,  which works exclusively with the Young Veterans Brewing Company to hold monthly fundraising events for veteran and military charities.

At each of these fundraisers, the brewing company donates a percentage of its sales to the charity of choice for the month, as well as hosting the event.

Suzanne Bannister, HRMT’s PR liaison, met our Norfolk area coordinator, Myra Smith, at a Tidewater Officer Spouse’s Association meeting, and the rest is history. She couldn’t wait to get involved with Dogs on Deployment.

YVBC volunteer group
Volunteers enjoying the great day, and taking a moment to pose in front of our info booth.

So, Dogs on Deployment worked with Vet Noise, Young Veterans Brewing Company and HRMT to coordinate one of their monthly events. October worked out best for everyone, and what a month it was!

Even the local media took notice of just what a special event this was to be. A local newspaper editor helped with press releases to her contacts in the surrounding communities, and we got a spot on the televised news.

yvbc great dane
Big dogs, little dogs, all dogs welcome at this event!

On October 26, all the planning came together, and from 3pm to 7pm, we watched the community come together. A live band played, there was a massage company donating time, and a bakery donating revenue from its sales.

The raffle items that HRMT donated was truly astounding: everything from pet supply gift baskets, to spa packages and tools from Lowe’s. We even had Broadway Show tickets, donated by a DoD volunteer, to give away. All totaled, over $10,000 of prizes were available.

Costume Contest YVBC
Pretty sure this guy deserves a prize!

Plus, it was a pet friendly event! Not only was Lizzi London there to showcase her new, handmade pet clothes, but the pet costume contest, just in time for Halloween, was a huge hit!

The winner walked off with a prize package of London’s exclusive designs.

YVBC puppy
Cute!

Since Vet Noise (FB) started in May, the DoD event is the largest in attendance that they’ve had. We can’t help but think that we had something to do with that.

We are so thankful and proud to have partnered with Vet Noise and HRMT, and we are grateful to say that we raised $1,200 in one afternoon of fun. Thanks!

If you have a brewery, and want to get involved in a similar fundraising event, consider our Brews, Dogs and Veterans Program!

Vote for DoD in Purina’s “Paws for a Cause!”

What You Need to Know:

This October, Dogs on Deployment is participating in Purina’s Paws for a Cause, a promotion which will award a total of $50,000 to worthy animal charities. The animal charity with the most votes will be awarded a donation of $25,000! Second and third place will receive  $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.

So, how does Dogs on Deployment win Purina’s Paws for a Cause? All it takes is for our loyal fans to visit http://www.pureloveforpets and vote. Voting is open until November 12, 2014. You can vote only once per day.

This year, we are competing against the North Shore Animal League and Adopt-a-Pet.com. The North Shore Animal League is the largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization in the world; and, Adopt-a-Pet.com is a searchable database that reaches across the U.S. and Canada, connecting homeless pets with potential fur-ever homes.

North Shore Animal League and Adopt-a-Pet.com are stiff competition; they are amazing organizations that do great work for animals and their families. We are honored to be participating in this competition with them.

Dogs on Deployment (DoD) has been working with the military community since 2011 when founders Alisa and Shawn Johnson recognized the unique needs of military pet owners, when faced with deployments and PCS. Since it’s foundation, DoD has successfully placed nearly 500 pets with foster families. Additionally, DoD has worked to educate the military community on issues relating to pet care, and diligently worked to raise money for pet-related emergencies for military members.

This is an all-star lineup! Head over to pureloveforpets, and vote for Dogs on Deployment, in Purina’s Paws for a Cause today!