WASHINGTON (February 5, 2003) - With the Pentagon
ordering deployments for tens of thousands of U.S. troops in preparation
for a possible war with Iraq, military families are facing difficult
times ahead. As they make adjustments to juggle the demands of everyday
life, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is offering
military families tips to help care for the four-legged members of the
"For many military people, pets are part of their
families," said Martha C. Armstrong, senior vice president of companion
animals for The HSUS, the nation's largest animal protection
organization. "Especially now, it's important to have the companionship
that a pet offers."
Since previous military deployments have often been
accompanied by increased levels of animals being taken to animal
shelters, The Humane Society of the United States has an important
message to military families: A call to duty doesn't have to mean giving
up your pet.
"In many cases, military personnel will be able to find
a friend or family member who will agree to care for a pet on a
temporary basis," said Armstrong. "Making arrangements well in advance
for temporary care for a pet will ensure that you can be reunited with
your pet when you return safely home."
The HSUS offers the following tips for keeping companion
animals in the family:
* Make arrangements for a family member or friend to
care for your pet in your absence.
* Have a written agreement outlining the pet care
arrangement. Issues to consider include what happens to the pet if the
caregiver can no longer keep the animal, who is liable for damages done
by the pet, what happens if you don't reclaim your pet, and what happens
if the pet is injured or becomes ill in the temporary home.
* Complete a pet personality profile to assist the
caregiver in understanding your pet's particular needs.
* Update vaccinations as needed and provide the
caregiver with veterinary records.
* Outfit your pet with a collar and tag with the
temporary caregiver's contact information. Make sure your pet is wearing
a rabies tag or license as required by law in your community.
* Provide funds to cover food, grooming, and other
* Leave contact information on how to reach your
veterinarian. Make arrangements for handling payment of routine and
emergency medical care.
* Have your pet spayed or neutered to avoid behavioral
problems and adding to the pet overpopulation problem
Betsy McFarland, program manager for animal sheltering
issues at The HSUS, says, "Because shelters already stretch resources to
the absolute limit to care for current populations of homeless animals,
we hope that military personnel will consider relinquishment to a
shelter only as a last resort."
"Family and friends can step in to provide care, or
shelters may be able to give information on assistance programs designed
to aid those called for duty with veterinary expenses, food, and
supplies," McFarland adds. "Pets are accustomed to human care and cannot
survive without it, so we strongly discourage anyone from abandoning a
pet in the hopes that he or she can make it on their own."
The HSUS provides downloadable samples of pet care
agreements, pet personality profiles, and a checklist for military pet
owners on its Web site. For more information call 202-452-1100 or visit
The HSUS on the Internet at www.hsus.org and click the "Pets" link.
The HSUS has over seven million members and
constituents. With active programs in companion animals, wildlife,
animals in research and farm animals and sustainable agriculture, The
HSUS works to protect all animals through legislation, litigation,
investigation, education, advocacy and field work. Through its Pets for
Life campaign, The HSUS seeks to keep people and their pets together.
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