Dogs on Deployment connects foster families with military members in need of temporary housing for their animal companions.
When Marine Corps pilot Alisa Johnson received orders to attend training in Quantico, Va., her husband Shawn, a Navy officer, was also preparing for deployment—leaving JD, their miniature Australian shepherd, without his owners for a six-month stint. The pair was fortunate to be in a family and financial situation that allowed them to find care for JD while they were gone, but it got them thinking: “If we were in this situation, imagine how many other military members are, too,” says Alisa.
The idea for Dogs on Deployment (DoD) was born, and since June 2011, the Santee, Calif.-based nonprofit organization has helped “deploy” more than 600 animals—from dogs and cats to guinea pigs and chickens—with foster families while their beloved owners fulfilled orders of their own. In addition, DoD advocates for military pet owners’ rights and promotes responsible, life-long pet ownership in the military community, with the goal that no pet has to be relinquished to a shelter due to a military commitment.
“I describe DoD as a sort of dating site for dogs, dog owners and potential fosters,” says Alisa, who lovingly refers to JD as her “soul-dog” and who is also a proud mom to another mini Aussie named Jersey,
two rescue cats, and two parrots. “We provide a network for people to make
Foster families must meet specific requirements and pet owners go through a strict approval process to register their animal: They must be active-duty military members or veterans and they must be going on an official deployment—vacation boarding is not an option.
Johnson credits the nationwide success of DoD to the country’s common interest in supporting the troops. “We bring together two of America’s great loves—animals and the military—and allow people to help both at the same time,” she says. “It’s a strong mission—to give military members peace of mind concerning their pets—that people stood behind from the start and have continued to support.”
For more info: dogsondeployment.org