Our compassionate troops are making a positive difference helping shelter animals. But, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s damaging to “rescue” or adopt a homeless pet unless your family is prepared for lifetime care.
A growing trend we’re seeing in the military community is the adoption of needy pets overseas. Many third-world countries have a surplus of sick, stray, and abandoned animals and our troops kindly bring them home. There are even nonprofits with the sole mission of saving animals from war zones.
We’ve heard from many rescues about military families that rehome pets just because the animal becomes a burden, or they decide pet ownership is not convenient for their lifestyle.
Adopting a needy animal from any responsible source is a beautiful choice and, sadly, there’s a critical need. Each year, more than 30,000 animals are admitted to The Hawaiian Humane Society. Some are reunited with their owners, but many more need loving homes with families that are willing to take the time to provide medical care, loving affection, and training.
Relinquishing an animal because circumstances change in life or because the animal takes time to train can cause behavior problems such as separation anxiety in the animal and is an overall poor decision. In doing so, your family has no way to know for sure if the animal is safe and given a chance for lifetime care. There are media reports about pets given up on Craigslist to awful people who abuse animals. Rehoming means others and already strapped organizations are taking care of the problem. Our goal is that someday no one will own a pet unless there’s lifetime care in mind.
In Hawaii, we have options to help with forever pet care. There are resources like Hawaii Military Pets to seek behavior and health advice and we have low-cost boarding for short-term travel. Our military veterinarians help us with preventative care. Oahu is a pet-friendly island with events to help us stay connected to others who can be pet mentors when we need them.
On Oahu and elsewhere, there are rescues that won’t adopt an animal to military, or do so with great caution. This must change. We think other military families that embrace forever pet ownership can be the biggest driving force to influence neighbors, coworkers, friends, and subordinates. Friends shouldn’t let friends abandon animals.
So…have you seen many military families adopting homeless animals, but then rehoming for any reason? And if so, how can we fix this problem?