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When Duty Calls, What Happens to Man’s Best Friend?

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Dogs on Deployment finds a loving, temporary home for America’s military pets. 

by Tonya Nash, Air Force spouse

 

The clock was ticking. Alisa Seiber-Johnson and her husband, Shawn, needed help fast.

Alisa, a second lieutenant in the Marines, had orders to Quantico, Va., for six months of training.  And Shawn, a lieutenant in the Navy, was deploying during those same months. They desperately needed to find someone to take care of J.D., their miniature Australian shepherd. 

They checked out kennel options in Virginia, but each one was the same: Nice, but very expensive. Luckily, a family member ended up volunteering to take care of J.D. during those months last summer and fall, while the couple served their country.

Their problem was solved. But Alisa and Shawn had discovered that many military members are stuck in this same situation. Many people struggle to find care for their pets when they have to leave for military duty. One person they spoke with had no choice but to take his pet to a shelter.

That was all Alisa needed to hear. “We didn’t want to see people having to give up their pets,” she tells Military Spouse.

 

REACHING OUT TO HELP

The Johnsons started brainstorming and came up with an idea to develop a website that lists the pets of military members in need of boarding. People interested in supporting the troops by boarding their pets would fill out an application. The military member and boarder would meet to determine boarding compatibility. A checklist and template for terms of agreement between the pet owner and boarder would be provided.

Alisa and Shawn went full speed ahead: They designed a website, filed for non-profit status and incorporated the organization. They also created a Facebook page to garner support.

The name of the new non-profit? Dogs on Deployment—or DoD* for short. Though the focus is on dogs, any pet is welcome to be listed on the website.  

The expense of starting a nonprofit was surprising to Alisa, but her passion for the work made things easier.  “I’m doing something good and helping people,” she says.

Over 130 people nationwide have signed up to become boarders with Dogs on Deployment. After just six months, appropriate boarding was found in seven states for 19 dogs and 1 cat. Support for the nonprofit has even reached as far as Europe!

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