Military deployment and your pets

So you received your military deployment orders and do not know what to do with your dog or cat.

At Pets for Patriots, we get calls every week from service members who are distraught at the prospect of parting with their beloved animals.

And we get numerous requests through social media to help pets whose guardians surrendered them to shelters because they were not aware that there are other options.

Fortunately there are alternatives to relinquishing your four-legged family member. 

Friends and family are often not the best choice

Deploying service members often turn to a loved one, parent or friend, particularly if they do not have a live-in partner or spouse.

People closest to a service member might feel compelled to help in the case of military deployment without giving enough thought to the responsibilities associated with caring for someone else’s pet.

It is hard to believe, but some friends and family sell, give away, or surrender a pet entrusted to their care without the knowledge or consent of the deployed service member.

If you think this situation is unlikely, consider the case of a Navy petter officer whose dog was surrendered to an animal shelter by a cousin entrusted to protect him. The dog was subsequently killed due to lack of anyone to adopt him.

Everyone thinks family or friends would never do such a thing, yet these situations happen every day.

Other people may have a legitimate reason why they can no longer care for your pet (loss of job/home), while others simply are not the people you thought them to be. Do not take that chance with your pet’s life. 

There are several important questions to ask yourself before you leave your pet with a friend or family member.

Can this person manage my pet’s physical needs?

This is especially important if you have a large or high-energy pet and the potential caregiver is a senior, has physical limitations, or is otherwise unable to provide the level of activity your pet requires. 

Occasionally we get calls from elderly parents who are unable to care for their child’s pet and feel they have no choice but to surrender her to the shelter.

In these situations, nobody wins – particularly the pet.

Does this person have a good relationship with my pet?

When you are faced with military deployment, never leave your pet with someone she does not know and who does not know her. 

Doing so risks stressing your pet and his temporary guardian. And it increases the likelihood that the person to whom you entrusted your four-legged best friend may not feel obligated to provide the best care.

Often we are contacted when a casual friend has been entrusted with a service member’s pet, and in turn surrenders the pet or gives him away.

Can I provide all necessary resources to ensure my pet’s health?

Be sure to hand over all veterinary contact information to your pet’s temporary guardian. Let your veterinarian know who will be responsible for your dog or cat while you are on military deployment.

Consider an emergency checklist, like this one recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Discuss with your pet’s caregiver any medication or special treatment he needs and make sure this person is capable of following through.

And you must make arrangements to pay for food, supplies, grooming, veterinary care, and emergencies. Your pet is still your legal and financial responsibility.

Is this person able to maintain my pet’s daily routine?

It is critical to minimize disruptions to your pet’s regular schedule. It is already stressful to him that his guardian will be away for an extended period on military deployment.

Discuss your dog’s or cat’s daily schedule – feeding, exercise, play and sleep times. Pets like routine, and will experience some degree of stress as a result of your absence.

It is important to maintain as much normalcy in their lives as possible. Do not leave your pet with someone who cannot maintain her routine, within reason.

Does this person live in an area or residence with breed bans?

Sadly, many communities and residences enforce Breed Specific Legislation that ban ownership of a range of dog breeds they deem to be dangerous.

This can include Bully-type breeds (aka Pit Bulls), Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas, Huskies, Dobermans, and many other types of dogs.

Check the laws where your pet will be temporarily homed to ensure compliance with any such restrictions.

Is this person willing to enter into a legal foster agreement?

Your pet is your family. If you would not leave your human child with someone without a legally binding agreement you should not leave your dog or cat without one, either.

A legal agreement may not prevent someone with bad intentions from acting against your pet’s interests. But it should give you recourse if you pursue legal action if the person fostering your pet violates the agreement.

The Humane Society of the United States offers a sample foster agreement. However, always consult with your attorney since laws vary by state and your individual circumstances.

Pet fostering for veterans facing military deployment or hardship

If you do not know someone who can care for your four-legged friend responsibly, consider a professional foster organization.

Pet fostering is a rapidly growing industry that provides short- and long-term care to pets of individuals who are in the military, are hospitalized, displaced due to disaster, or facing unforeseen homelessness.

The animal is typically fostered within a private home and some states require that foster homes be licensed. In all cases, the service member remains financially responsible for their pet’s food, supplies, medical care, and other routine needs.

Pets for Patriots works with two nationally operating organizations, listed below. Both are nonprofit organizations like ours.

Dogs On Deployment

Dogs On Deployment helps service members facing military deployment, hardship, or medical emergencies find qualified foster homes for their pets.

We partner with Dogs On Deployment by referring to them veterans who need short- or long-term pet foster care. In turn, they refer veterans to us who are looking to adopt companion pets.

In addition to pet fostering, Dogs On Deployment maintains a Pet Chit program to grant funds for emergency medical care for veterans’ pets.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is another qualified military pet foster organization.

Like Dogs On Deployment, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet relies on a network of volunteer foster homes to match pets with an appropriate caregiver.

Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet maintains a Military Pet Assistance fund to help with a range of pet medical and/or boarding needs for deployed personnel, homeless veterans, or those facing short-term hospitalization. 

Have a plan for military deployment or hardship

With a little planning you can ensure responsible care for your pet during your absence.

Once you surrender your dog or cat to a shelter or rescue, you are no longer that animal’s legal guardian. Military pet foster organizations are therefore unable to assist because the pet is now legally owned by the shelter.

There is no reason that dogs and cats should be relinquished to shelters when there are professional foster organizations with proven track records to help.

Have a plan; your pet deserves it.

Download our military deployment foster flyer!


  1. Emily Wallace

    Hi everyone, in reading through these comments, I see there are a few people who need or may need to permanently rehome their pet. If this is the case, give Rehome by a try. You can create a profile for your pet at no cost and she/he will be posted on for millions of potential adopters to see. Here is the link:

    Best of luck to everyone and thank you for your service!

  2. Cindy

    I live in South Florida and would like to foster a pet for a military member being deployed ( I am a mother of a United States Marine In The fleet).

  3. Melanie Anderson

    Help, help, help! I have 3 dogs and a blind cat, I believe that I will be going overseas to turkey for a minimum of 12 mos. I am looking for a pet foster service that will keep my animals possibly together especially the dogs, I currently work for DOD and am a vet. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  4. Kevon Anglin

    Hello Sir/Madam,
    My name is Kevon Anglin and i am about to be deployed, for the third time, in a few days. My wife is disabled and allergic to my 7 year-old pit bull. He is a great dog of about 60 lbs and i have had him since he was two months. I will be gone for a year and desparately need to arrange loving care fir him – which i cannot afford. Any help and cinsideration would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

  5. Kelsey

    Hi there,
    I will be deploying for 9months. My cat and dog are both being watched by my parents. However, both animals have severe separation anxiety. What can I do to help my pets with this anxiety, such as leaving a blanket with my scent? Voice or maybe like a card with my voice so when they feel depressed my parents can let them hear it. I know that sounds silly but I haven’t really been able to find information on this so wondering if anyone has had experience with this and what did you do? Both animals have been to my parents house so they are familiar with the surroundings I just fear that the length the time may cause them confusion and depression.

  6. Cassandra L Mills

    My nephew has the sweetest dog but leaving for BT soon and we want to find his dog a good home. Can you help?

  7. James Shepard-Kegl

    Urgently need foster care for male whippet in Jacksonville, FL for Navy family. Husband deployed overseas. Wife and children returned from family visit in Maine to discover house is now uninhabitable due to severe mold infestation and all contents, including car, a total loss. Insurance carrier is balking at coverage and remediation estimate is, well, sobering. Navy is providing emergency shelter for human members of family but does not have available housing for pets. We are endeavoring to arrange animal transport for this little dog to me in Maine, but, as luck would have it, I am undergoing surgery in the morning and will be recovering at home for several weeks. Given the instability of the situation, an offer for a permanent home for the dog will be considered. The dog is personable and child-friendly, but sometimes nervous around other dogs. (Posted by soldier’s father-in-law.)

  8. harry kane


  9. LaVonne Raber

    My daughter is leaving for basic training the end of August. I cannot care for her ferret. I did not see mention of any other animals other than cats or dogs. Can you steer my in a direction to a foster program that may take her ferret for 5.5 months?

  10. Teri

    Do you know of an organization that can help find foster care for a large dog while military family is PCS overseas?
    Due to breed restrictions in England (new PCS) they cannot take him with them and don’t want to lose their furry family member. Thanks!

  11. Robbie

    If you are married Dogs on Deployment will deny your application. I am geo-batching and have a dog, my wife put in the application for us and they denied it because we are married. As of right now I don’t have anywhere to take our pets and I deploy in a month.

  12. Pamela Bolding

    Our son is on a deployment out of the country since August until May 2018. His sister and family have been caring for his hound/Coon dog since August but they have just had a newborn and need to find someone who can care for him until he is home from his deployment. They live in Mississippi and we in Alabama. But we live in the city an can’t take him. Are you aware of anyone who would be willing to foster him until he returns.

  13. Noah Browning

    Hello, I am 18 years old and recently enlisted in the marine corp. I’m still in high school but am leaving for basic training after I graduate. My parents will no longer watch my dog any more because she occasionally digs in the yard. She has almost been broken of this habit but my parents refuse to hold her for me. I currently have a four year contract in the marine corp. I love my dog very much and do not wish to part with her for good. She is a very energetic sheperd husky mix who loves to run jump, play fetch and be outside. She is quite the hunter. By now she has killed over 15 moles in my yard and drops them at my feet. My girlfriend led me to This site and I would pay some one a reasonable sum to foster my dog while I answer my inner calling to serve my country. My email address is phone number 210 452 3239

  14. Beaner

    My stepson and his wife (both serving in the Airforce) had a Pittbull,they never got him any shots,no flea/tick meds… they watched him suffer for a year!!! They “sent” him to my husband and I after “their baby ” was born….this poor pup ended up having Lyme disease and acute Kidney failure at age 4 1/2 years!! Two individuals who are in the military watched this pup suffer for a year and DID NOTHING!!! Disgusting!!!

  15. E

    I leave for basic training in 3 weeks and will be away for a total of 5 months. However, the only thing I see is for people who are deploying out of the country. This is unfair. There are people like myself who are single and are not deploying out of the country but still have military orders. What gives? How can I find a place for my pup?

    • bethz

      Thank you for your service.

      To the best of our knowledge, both Dogs On Deployment and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet provide deployment boarding services for military personnel who are deploying stateside as well. Please consult each organization for their respective policies.


  16. Heather Swarthout

    I am a foster through a local rescue where I live but I would love to become a foster for deployed military furbabies. I tried to sign up through the website but it won’t upload.

    • bethz

      Heather, we have nothing to do with those other sites; we simply list them here for informational purposes. Please contact those sites directly.

  17. Ebony Mabine

    I am in NC. Disabled army veteran, with a new (non service connected ) serious vision issue. I moved to Charlotte on order to have access to more resources. I was forced to leave my dog with a relative.
    I am trying to find am way to transport my dog from Eastern NC to Charlotte within the next two months.
    Im still searching for an appropriate job and a new place, but I can have her here where I am now, until I am able to move into a new place that accepts medium to large dogs (she’s only about 60 lbs).

    • bethz

      Hi Ebony,

      Thank you for your service.

      Pets for Patriots is not involved in pet transport. You may want to contact the following organizations to see if they can assist:

      Pilots N Paws: volunteer pilots who provide transport services for rescue animals and organizations.
      P.E.T.S. (Peterson Express Transport Services): rescue transport in the Southeast servicing the New England area. All trucks are climate-controlled and equipped with USDA-approval travel crates.
      Operation Roger: volunteer truckers who donate transport services for rescue animals.
      Dogs On Deployment

      Pets for Patriots

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