Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Soldier’s Pets Find a Home Away from Home

Reunited after 18 months in Iraq. Photo: Courtesy of Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet

In the past, soldiers without family or friends to care for their cats and dogs were often forced to surrender their pets to a shelter. Luckily, thanks to a nonprofit organization called Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet (GASP), that’s changed.

Since 2005, GASP has placed 100 soldiers’ pets in loving foster homes across the country. GASP founder and CEO Linda Spurlin-Dominik tells Paw Nation that the organization currently keeps tabs on 67 military pets in foster care. When soldiers return, they are reunited with their furry family members.

Most fostered pets are cats and dogs, but ferrets and rabbits have also been cared for by GASP volunteers. The organization screens potential foster homes to ensure that soldiers’ pets end up in safe, loving environments until they can be returned to their owners. Usually, foster homes are within a two-hour drive of the owner’s home, Spurlin-Dominik says. But in cases where local foster families aren’t available, pet transport volunteers have ferried pets across state lines to make sure they find a caring household. “The objective is to place the pet in a home similar to what they’re used to,” she says.

Soldiers provide funds to cover feeding and vet expenses while they’re away and they set up a billing account to cover any emergency medical treatment in case their pet falls ill. In some cases, GASP also provides financial assistance with vet bills and housing. Most soldiers have a chance to meet their pets’ foster families before they depart, and foster families keep soldiers’ spirits up by sending photos and update letters about their furry friends.

When a military member’s orders change on short notice, or pet-care plans fall through at the last minute, GASP will pay to board the pets until a suitable foster home is located, Spurlin-Dominik explains.

Before heading to war, military members prepare a will instructing what should happen to their pets if they don’t make it home safely. In some cases, they allow willing foster families to keep the pet. Fortunately, though, that hasn’t happened yet, according to Spurlin-Dominik. So far, 33 former foster pets have been reunited with their owners after they’ve returned from battle.

She recalls a soldier who was reunited with his two dogs after having served 18 months overseas. “The dog was all stretched out on the couch when the owner came in. He perked up his ears. When the owner called his name, the dog went ballistic. I can attest that they do not forget their owners,” she tells Paw Nation. “As one soldier told me, having his two dogs back was a tremendous help for him to transition back into a non-war environment. He just had comfort having his dogs with him.”

Interested in assisting Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet or applying to be a foster family? Visit their website to learn more about volunteer and donation options.

by Kirsten Taylor – Aug 27th 2009 5:00PM – PawNation.com

Posted: Just One More Pet – Cross Posted:  Marion’s Place

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September 20, 2009 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Fostering and Rescue, Just One More Pet, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Homeless With Pets – Choosing Pets Over Shelter

Choosing Pets Over Shelter

We Are Taking Action to Help Pets of the Homeless, by Supplying Pet Food and Veterinarian Care

Feeding Pets of the Homeless
is a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides pet food and veterinarian care to the homeless and less fortunate in local communities across the United States and Canada.  How? Our volunteers collection sites receive donated pet food and deliver it to food banks and/or soups kitchens which have agreed to distribute the food to the homeless and impoverished.
Our headquarters are in Carson City, Nevada and it is from here that we coordinate and support our volunteer collection sites.
We collect cash donations, we purchase pet food, distribute grant applications to veterinarians, and other nonprofit organizations that meet our objectives, we review and award grants, and we provide marketing materials and promote the organization on behalf of our collection sites to the national media.  

Become a collection site or sponsor one today. 

Mission Statement:

Through Feeding Pets of the Homeless, we will do our part to help reduce hunger in pets that belong to the homeless and the less fortunate and provide medical care for those pets in communities across the country.

We believe in the healing power of companion pets and of the human/animal bond which is very important to life.

Our actions include the following:

  1. Promote to veterinarians and pet related businesses the importance of joining the program
  2. Speak out on the issue of pets of homeless and the disadvantaged
  3. Campaign to food distributing organizations the importance of distributing pet food to the less fortunate
  4. Provide grants to licensed veterinarians and other nonprofit organizations that meet our objectives to administer medical care to pets of the homeless.

To view our Annual Report click here.

“The response from the public has been phenomenal.”

– Genevieve Frederick, Executive Director and Founder (click name to email)


How do you choose between shelter and a best friend? This is the impossible decision pet-lovers face when losing their homes. Since most shelters don’t allow animals, homeless people with pets often elect to stay on the streets rather than part with their four-legged companion… a decision that can be dangerous when the elements become harsh.

Indeed, pets can be a key reason that homeless people choose living on the streets over shelters. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that between five and ten percentof homeless people have an animal companion (although this has never been formally surveyed). Yet, only two (yes, just 2!) pet-friendly homeless shelters exist in the United States (in Florida and California).

The benefits of having a pet are significant, particularly for homeless people. Pets are non-judgmental and loyal, almost to a fault. They may serve as additional security and protection on the dangerous streets. And studies show that they contribute to the healing process for people with mental or physical illness. According to one expert:

In this very busy twentieth century, man is a lonely creature. There are too many alienated individuals who lack human companionship. They lack purpose and productivity. A simple addition to these lonely lives can sometimes accomplish major changes. The possession of a pet, who eagerly awaits one and responds to one’s care and attention, may mean the difference between maintaining contact with reality or almost total withdrawal into fantasy. Literally, a pet can occasionally represent the difference between life and death.

One organization, Feeding Pets of the Homeless, takes a different approach to this issue. Their take? “Pets of the homeless and disadvantaged do not choose their owners.” To ensure that pets of the homeless receive care and nourishment, they have established a coalition of food banks and veterinarians specifically for pets of the homeless. (Find out if your community is connected.)

Certainly, it’s important to ensure that the pets of homeless people receive adequate care. However, it is even more crucial to recognize that four-legged companions are a key part of a homeless person’s life, but may also create an impermeable barrier for the delivery of life-saving services to homeless people.

Sadly, it is unlikely that more pet-friendly shelters will materialize in the near future, given that many organizations are already struggling to meet the needs of homeless humans (although,Vancouver, BC is the proud new owner of such a shelter).

[Picture: Homeless man with dog from Feeding Pets of the Homeless.]

Shelter Sued for Banning Service Dogs


PUBLISHED JULY 20, 2009 @ 06:02AM PT

Viper is in frail health. She suffers from seizures, gets around in a wheelchair, and uses a catheter. Given her vulnerable condition, Viper is fortunate to have a service dog trained to help her detect and cope with seizures.

Yet, Viper lives on the streets. Simply because her service dog has been turned away from area shelters.

Since most shelters do not allow animals, homeless people with a four-legged friend often choose to live stay on the streets rather than part with their pet. But should homeless individuals with a life-threatening medical condition that requires the help of a service animal be forced to make this same decision?

The Housing Rights Center and the Disability Rights Legal Center certainly doesn’t think so. Last week the organization filed a lawsuit against several Los Angeles homeless shelters alleging that the Americans With Disabilities Act and fair housing laws do not allow discrimination against people just because they rely on service animals.

The service providers interviewed for the LA Times article said it can be difficult to accommodate animals – service or otherwise – in a shelter setting. According to the article, others may be “sleeping nearby who may be allergic or afraid of dogs.”

It would be easy to chastise the shelter in this situation for their apparent lack of concern for medically vulnerable individuals. But keep in mind that shelters are often understaffed and filled to the brims. In a place like LA, shelters beds are in such high demand that turning away a person in need of help is usually not a choice. In addition, as any shelter worker will tell you, managing an emergency shelter is akin to controlling imminent chaos.

While this perspective does not excuse a shelter from turning away a guest with a service animal, it provides a better understanding of the strains shelters face to meet the needs of a growing homeless population.

But just as Viper should not be sleeping on the streets, a homeless shelter is not an appropriate place for her either. Someone as medically vulnerable as Viper should be bypass shelter and go directly into permanent housing with a case manager. This is the only long-term arrangement that will ensure her medical needs are appropriately cared for.

As we move towards a prevention/rapid-rehousing model for providing homeless services, I hope this conversation about service animals in shelters becomes obsolete.

Does the woman in this LA Times photo look familiar? It’s Viper, one of the stories captured by Mark Horvath during his Road Trip, U.S.A. tour. Watch her story here.

The “ex”-Middle & Upper Class Homeless

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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September 20, 2009 Posted by | animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Owner's Rights, Pets, Political Change, We Are All God's Creatures | , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Labrador Retriever – Still America’s Favorite Dog

1990s & 2000s: Labrador Retrievers

Bill Clinton’s Chocolate Lab, Buddy, remained his buddy even during the dark days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Despite being portrayed as rambunctious in the book and film “Marley & Me,” the Lab remains the most popular dog in America today.

Because of their even temperament, they excel as guide dogs for the blind, as part of search-and-rescue teams, and with law enforcement.

Black Lab.mediumchocolate_lab

Chasing Juneau

A non-theological note on a very theological dog (He literally devoured the New Testament and several writings by Sproul). Juneau was killed when he ran under the prop of an airplane on August 21st, 2009.

Let me begin by saying the dog dies at the end of the story. I always read stories about dogs with hesitation, because I so dislike falling in love with the antics of the animal, only to finish the piece in tears when the dog peacefully falls asleep at its owner’s feet. Or, behind the woodstove in the case of Jack in “Little House in the Prairie.” There is no peaceful falling asleep here; it was violent and horrible. And yet I’m writing about it, trying to make some sense out of a “Life just happens…” event.

I despise clichés, but it is easiest explained to say I am walking through some very muddy waters in areas of my life right now. I am trying to let Christ carry me though them, but just like you probably do on occasion, I spend hours trying to get my own boots out of the muck instead of letting The One Who Isn’t Encumbered By Muck carry me. When I have been stuck (waist deep and refusing help) there has always been Juneau, swimming around me in the bog, trying to bark and carry someone else’s stolen shoe at the same time. He was a friend, a family member, and a picture of what I wished I could be a bit more like. Yes, I know he was “just” a dog, but he was a constant reminder to me to laugh, to play, to go riding on the ATV if for nothing but the pleasure of that great, black head resting on my shoulder as we checked fence lines.

Juneau - the black lab Juneau’s days were spent chasing hawks and vultures as they soared over the cliffs by our home. He loved it when Sam pulled out the blower, because it meant chasing the leaves and stirred-up grass. His tail provided him with endless hours of pleasure – the toy that was always available to pursue if the hawks were sleeping in. Any work done around the house was made better by his company – changing the oil, mowing the lawn, doing school. He tore into the basement with anticipation of what he could destroy – in one day alone, he happily devoured a two pound Costco bag of chocolate truffles, a map of Wales, an airport approach book, and both a paper plate and the cookies that were on it. He did not eat the wax paper covering the cookies, but he gave it the old college try. I could write pages about the silly things he did – riding on the ATV, playing with his puppies, but it can be said most succinctly in this – Juneau was joy itself poured into a black coat.

When I read The Last Battle, CS Lewis’s picture of heaven made sense to me. Where a hundred theological statements had failed to paint eternity, Lewis broke through my foggy understanding with a mouse and Aslan. I suppose Christ’s creation just makes more sense to me through that portion he spent the first part of the sixth day on. Reepicheep was just a mouse – a vivid analogy of courage and faith. Remember when he gnawed away the cords that bound Aslan? Did you cheer when he challenged the dragon? And didn’t your heart go over the edge with him when he sailed away in his little coracle to Aslan’s Country? And didn’t you know you were going to have fun when you drove up to my house and Juneau ran to you, eyes merry, carrying something he had stolen from someone else to give you as a gift? Again, Juneau was “just” a dog. But like Lewis’s portrayal of Christ as the Lion, I was daily reminded of God’s gift to us of joy – a fruit of the spirit made flesh in a bumbling, magnificent Labrador Retriever.

I am sure to be making little sense as I write this, and I am also sure to offend many by drawing a comparison of a dog to something holy. It is difficult to type while crying, and even more difficult to share how much one dog can mean. No, I don’t worship animals – although I did live in Eugene long enough to see some pretty strange things. And I am not putting my dog on the level of a human, with his value more than, or even equal to, my husband or children. There will still be larger-than life moments in my world – a solo for one of the kids in a play, a ribbon from the State Fair, a special dinner to celebrate many years spent together. But I’m trying to imagine a night out on the deck without his 80-pound body wedging itself between David and me, and I’m not succeeding very well. How do you laugh at joy destroyed?
When I covered Juneau’s mangled body with a blanket, I understood the expression “He’s not with us anymore.” Animals, like people, seem smaller when they’ve died. Like the area the soul occupied is void – the balloon has popped, and there are wrinkles where the space was occupied by something larger than the lining. I’m not suggesting dogs have souls – why would they need them? They never questioned the One. If even the rocks would cry out and worship, where do you think dogs would be? At the front of the chorus, I am sure. I have no desire to debate whether animals go to heaven. I only know on that day when I face Christ, when He who died for my sins runs to embrace me, He will be missing his right sandal. And Juneau will be right behind him, carrying it in his big smiling mouth.

Source:  Justlabradors.com/MSN

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Marley & Me


Tales from a Dog Catcher

Posted:  Just One More Pet

September 20, 2009 Posted by | animal behavior, Just One More Pet, Pets | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment