Shelter looks at pet foster program for soldiersFriends of Animals is setting up a foster program for pets of soldiers deploying overseas.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
With all of the stress and anxiety of an overseas deployment, it would be an additional heartache for a soldier to have to leave behind a beloved pet if there is no family member who can take care of it. The Friends of Animals (F.O.A.) Humane Society of Carlton County has decided to establish a program to find homes and volunteers to foster the pets for members of the Cloquet-based Crazy Troop 1-94 Cavalry Unit of the Army National Guard, the majority of whom are expected to depart for a one-year deployment sometime in May.
“I was asked by one member of the unit if we had any suggestions as to what he could do with his dog while he was away,” reported F.O.A. volunteer and board member Linda Towne. “He was reluctant to think that his only options would be to either give it to the shelter for someone else to adopt or to euthanize it, and he asked if the F.O.A. might consider fostering it for a year until he returns.”
Towne said the question led to discussion at the F.O.A.’s last board meeting of possibly creating a foster program for deploying soldiers. She said board members were “overwhelmingly in support of the idea” and voted to proceed in “whatever fashion necessary to figure out what it will take to set up such a program.”
“At this point, we don’t know if we’re talking one animal or 11, or however many,” said Towne. “Most people have family or friends who could take care of a pet for someone who finds themself in that sort of circumstance, but there are always some who don’t. We just can’t let it go at that.”
Towne said she still remembers a particularly poignant situation when the local Guard unit was last deployed in 2004-2005.
“One of the soldiers had an old Dalmatian, and he didn’t have anyone to take care of it while he was away,” said Towne. “The man shed tears when he brought him in to the shelter to be put up for adoption. We weren’t at all prepared at that time to figure out another way to help him out [as far as offering a foster home for his dog].”
She stated that the F.O.A. board already has a couple of possible foster home volunteers in mind but added the F.O.A. would like to have several more added to the list in case the need arises.
Deploying soldiers in need of foster care for a pet would have to make certain that pet is up to date on its shots and would have to sign an agreement to grant the foster family medical authority to deal with certain emergencies that might come up with the pet while the owner is away.
Any of the deploying local Army National Guard members in need of a foster home for a pet while they are overseas, or anyone willing to have their name put on a list as a potential foster family for such a pet, is encouraged to call the F.O.A. shelter at 218-879-1655.
“This is a great way for people who aren’t able to serve our country overseas to help out the men and women who do,” said Mike Licari, F.O.A. executive director.