Because the military lifestyle can involve frequent uprooting and transferring from one state—or country—to another, one might assume that keeping a dog in those circumstances is counterintuitive. Relocation costs can be expensive—thousands of dollars, in some cases—and the US military does not cover expenses for relocating family pets.
But dog ownership offers countless therapeutic benefits and having to give up a beloved family pet—particularly if the reason is related to budget—can be devastating. To help keep military families intact—including the furry ones—the international arm of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has launched Operation Military Pets. Individuals serving in all military branches, and relocating within the United States or anywhere in the world, are welcome to apply for Operation Military Pets grants to help offset the costs of bringing their pets with them.
There has been a tremendous response since its February 2013 launch, says Stephanie Scott, SPCA International’s Director of Communications, who notes that in one month, there have been almost 40 requests for help and the group has already begun disbursing financial aid.
Although the military enacted in 2009 a rule that “aggressive or potentially aggressive” dogs, including pit bulls, are not allowed in US military bases, Operation Military Pets offers assistance to anyone serving in the military, whether they live on or off base; thus, there are no breed restrictions for eligibility. Those forced to live off base because of their dog’s breed may need the most help, in fact. “We understand that off-base housing is more costly and just one more example of why our animal-loving military personnel are forced to shoulder a heavier burden as they are relocated,” Scott says.
Visit Operation Military Pets for more information about the program—including how it got started—and to find out how you can support this important program. As Scott says, "With so many families facing transportation costs of thousands of dollars, we need the public's support to ensure we can help every single military family that needs it."