When soldiers are deployed, most do their utmost to find care for their pets. But try as they might, some can’t find anyone willing to take the pets for a protracted period. To make matters worse, soldiers can be given a very short time to report for duty. Those who can’t find long-term care have little choice but to relinquish their beloved pets to a shelter or rescue group. Some are adopted. Many are euthanized.
Six years ago, friends Linda Spurlin-Dominik and Carol Olmedo set out to put an end to this heartbreaking scenario. They founded Guardian Angels for Soldiers Pet (GASP). The nonprofit organization has placed hundreds of pets in loving foster homes, and has a list of about 2,500 great foster homes nationwide. GASP matches dogs and fosters. The fosters tend to keep in regular contact with the deployed soldiers, sending photos and videos and updates on their pets. When soldiers return, from three to 13 months later, fosters return the pets — hard as that can be.
GASP can always use more foster homes, but what GASP really wants to do is spread the word about its services to military personnel. Apparently there’s a dearth of awareness about this program in the military. Too many dogs of soldiers are still ending up in shelters. If you know of any military service members who might need GASP’s services, either now or in the future, please forward this article to them and have them click on the link to submit a pet for fostering. Also, if you happen to know any military bloggers, that’s proven to be a really effective way of letting troops know about the program.
Check out the video below for a look at how the program helped a soldier and his best friend.
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(A big Dogster thank-you to tipsters Cookie Dog and Steven M. Greene who each recently wrote to tell me about this great program!)