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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