Animal Writes
From 2 March 2003 Issue

HSUS Tips For Military Personnel on Temp Pet Care

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 family.

"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 routine needs.

* 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 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.

For More Information Contact: Belinda Mager: 301-258-3072
E-mail: [email protected] 

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