Military Personnel: Making Arrangements for Your Pets

Military personnel don't have to give up their pets when called to active duty. A little bit of planning can keep the whole family together.


It is very important to keep loved ones close during these uncertain times -- including the four-legged members of our families. The Humane Society of the United States, American Humane Association, American Society for the Protection of Animals, and National Animal Control Association urge military families to work hard to keep pets in the family and resist relinquishing these beloved pets to shelters.

If you are in the military, it's important to make prior arrangements for your pets in case you are deployed. If at all possible, arrange for family or friends to care for your pet. When leaving your pet with family or friends, it's a good idea to create a foster care agreement. Having a written agreement will help protect your pet and provide you with the security of knowing your chosen caretaker has the legal right to care for your pet in your absence.

In addition to the agreement, The HSUS has developed a checklist for military pet owners covering things to take care of when leaving their pet with family and friends. And be sure to complete a cat personality profile or a dog personality profile to help your temporary caregiver understand your pet's needs.

If you are unable to arrange care for your pet and need assistance, contact your local animal shelter or breed-placement group. In addition, if you or your pet's caregivers are having trouble affording veterinary care, food, or other supplies, please contact your local animal shelter to see if it has an assistance program.

Taking these simple steps will help ensure that your best friend is properly cared for while you're away.

If you are called for duty you'll need to make arrangements for the care of your pet. If you will be leaving your pet in the care of family and friends, be sure to:

  • Have a written agreement outlining the pet care arrangement. The agreement should cover important issues such as what will happen to your pet if the temporary caregiver can no longer care for him, who is liable for any damage done by your pet, what will happen if you are unable to reclaim your pet, and what happens if the pet is injured or dies while in the temporary home.
  • Complete a cat personality profile or a dog personality profile to help your pet's caretaker understand your pet's particular needs, including a list of her likes and dislikes, where she sleeps, what she eats, what medications she takes, and any other important information.
  • Make sure that your pet is up-to-date on all his vaccinations and provide your pet's caretaker with veterinary records.
  • Outfit your pet with a collar and tag with the temporary caretaker's contact information. Also make sure your pet is wearing a rabies tag or license as required by law in your community.
  • Leave contact information on how to reach your pet's veterinarian. Arrange who will pay for routine and emergency care. Consider leaving your credit card information with set dollar limits with your veterinarian so your pet can receive emergency care if needed. Make arrangements for what should happen if the care exceeds the set dollar limit.
  • Provide money for food, toys, grooming, and other routine needs.
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering your pet will make him healthier and make things easier for his temporary caregiver. You don't want your pet fathering unwanted litters or spraying furniture while in his temporary home.
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