By Linda Cole
Before 2005, military personnel who were also pet owners were left with a hard choice to make when the time came for them to deploy overseas. If they couldn’t find a temporary home for their pet with family or friends, or a new permanent home, they were forced to relinquish them to a shelter. Linda Spurlin-Dominik and Carol Olmedo decided there should be help for soldiers and their pets. They established an organization called Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet (GASP), because they felt that no one should have to give up their pet when their chosen job is protecting our country.
Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is a nonprofit, all volunteer operation. Their stated goal is to provide a suitable and loving home environment for a soldier’s pet when they are called to defend or represent our country anywhere in the world, whether it’s in peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, or for combat duty.
It can be difficult in the best of times to find good homes for pets when circumstances force someone to have to give up their pet. Shelters across the country have seen the number of relinquished pets skyrocket over the years because of home foreclosures and military personnel who had to give their pets up before going overseas because there were no other options. It must be heartbreaking for a soldier to turn their beloved pet over to a shelter and then worry if they found a home or had to be put down to make room for other abandoned pets.
GASP created an option for military personnel deploying overseas that allows soldiers to keep their pets. Volunteers around the country care for military pets in a loving home environment until the pet and owner can be reunited. Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet also provides emergency help for soldiers returning home who may need short term care in the VA system and can’t care for their pets at the moment. Care for the pet will continue until the soldier recovers and can reclaim their pet.
As a military support organization, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet recruits and interviews potential foster homes to insure they are a loving and suitable home for military pets. The foster home agrees to provide care for a pet according to the wishes of the pet’s owner, and they agree to give the pet back. Foster homes are not paid for their service and expenses are taken care of by the pet’s owner. GASP can provide help for emergency medical care when needed, if the pet’s owner can’t be reached because of their duties or if financial aid is needed by the owner.Volunteers help to promote the organization and their programs both nationally and around the states they are in.
GASP has been working on building the first Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet “Military, Veterans, and Pet” (MVP) Sanctuary that will be located 14 miles west of Fort Hood in Texas, according to their 2009 Annual Report. This sanctuary will be a home-like setting for pets when foster homes can’t be found for a military pet, and they hope to be able to build sanctuaries in other states in the near future.
Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet depends on generous contributions from the public to help them provide foster homes for military pets, help with emergency funds when needed, transport pets to foster homes and build needed sanctuaries throughout the country. Military personnel have enough on their minds when they are preparing to deploy overseas. Taking the worry of what happened to their beloved pet away is just one small way of thanking them for the job they do, and gives them peace of mind knowing their pets are cared for in a loving home.
If you would like to help, you can do so by making a contribution of whatever you can afford, by volunteering to help transport pets or applying to become a foster home for a soldier’s pet. This is a great way to show your support for a soldier who is also a pet owner.
For more information about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, including how to sign up as a foster care provider, volunteer or to contribute, please visit the GASP website. You can also help by forwarding this post to your family and friends. GASP is a great organization that is providing a much needed service not only for military personnel, but for animal shelters, as well by keeping pets out of the shelters and in a home environment where they belong.
Read more articles by Linda Cole
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