If you are a pet owner and/or are preparing for a deployment, you really ought to read this.
My wife, an avid animal lover, ran across something on the Internet, which piqued her curiosity.Â Titled â€œGuardian Angels for Soldierâ€™s Petsâ€,Â it described a non-profit organization based in Gatesville, Texas, which places pets of deploying military members in temporary foster homes for the duration of the deployment.
I tried to find a local chapter or affiliate of â€œGuardian Angelsâ€ without success, so I called the Gatesville office.Â The lady who answered the phone, Linda Dominik, just happened to be Chief Executive Officer and one of the founders of Guardian Angels.Â She informed me that some 255 pets and owners have been in the program since it began 2007.Â Of that number, 205 pets have been reunited with their owners.
I asked Linda if it was difficult for the foster family to give up their foster pet after caring for it for three months to a year or more.
â€œNot a bit,â€ she replied. â€œIf youâ€™ve witnessed a reunion it is a display of joy, love, and gratitude that is truly amazing.â€
Getting down to the basics, I asked Linda about who pays for the care of the foster pet.Â She says that the owner usually pays for everything, but in many cases, the foster family picks up everything but the vet bills.Â Dogs are more in demand than cats, but some breeds, like pit bulls, can be hard to place.Â In addition to dogs and cats, Guardian Angels has placed rabbits, ferrets, parrots, and a horse.Â They are even working to place a snake in foster care!
Ms. Dominik told me that they have unpaid volunteer coordinators in all fifty states. Our Nevada coordinator is Kim Conklin of Las Vegas, who began as a volunteer foster parent, and now also covers Utah and Colorado. She started with Nevada in August 2011 and expanded to Colorado and Utah in January 2012. Kim now has five active foster families that she keeps track of and is actively seeking volunteers. â€œWe never have enough foster homes.â€Â She asks only that when the pet is reunited with its owner, you provide photos or video of the event.
Recently, Kim represented Guardian Angels at the National Association of Broadcasters and â€œThanks USAâ€ concert at Encore Theater in the Wynn Hotel here in Las Vegas.Â Up and coming country singer/songwriter Lucas Hoge, national spokesperson for Guardian Angels, was a feature performer.Â Four hundred families from Nellis Air Force Base were invited as guests of Thanks USA.Â Proceeds from the event go to fund scholarships for children of deserving active duty military families.
Kim is always looking for foster families, and deploying pet owners to match them up with.Â She can be contacted at www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org or by calling her at (702) 526-0060.
If you are going on an overseas jaunt sponsored by Uncle Sam, and have a pet with no one to care for it, contact Kim.
Or, if your circumstances allow it, look into being a â€œfoster parentâ€ for some military members treasured dog or cat.Â It would mean one less thing for them to worry about while serving our country abroad.