Nothing irks me more than going on to a military support page on Facebook or any other social networking site and seeing the following:

“I need to get rid of this puppy (shows picture of adorable 6 to 7 month old pup), ASAP. We got him for our son, but now he’s allergic.”

“Need to re-home our dog, landlord says we can’t have him due to size.”

“We are PCSing, can’t bring our 12 year old lab with us. Need new home, small re-homing fee.”

Really? I mean, really? When you take on the responsibility of owning a pet, you take on the responsibility of taking care of that pet for life. True, a pet may not be real Family (after all, it is only an animal), but he or she has loved you for however long you’ve had it and now you’re saying you can’t have or take it with you? I mean really?

Okay, now I understand there are different circumstances to every story. Firstly, I want to congratulate these folks in actually taking the time to find a Family for their animal. A lot of people just abandon their animals. Working with the on-post shelter, I’ve heard horrible stories of puppies in dumpsters, dogs running amok, stray cats curled under houses, and pets tied to abandoned housing … which is how I came to adopting my obnoxious, loving boxer pup. So, I do thank these people for finding it in their heart to not just leave their pet behind with a bag of food and a squeak toy at their front step.

But, there are responsibilities that pet owners need to consider when deciding whether or not to own a pet. First, how about having your son play with the dog or meet the dog before actually adopting the animal. Some shelters (like the Fort Bragg Shelter) allow you to foster an animal before making a commitment. Why in the world would you jump into a life-long commitment without doing your research and making sure that the animal is a good fit for your Family … and no one is allergic to it?

This also goes along the lines of the “my landlord says he’s too big” scenario. Why wouldn’t you look at your contract and see if the dog fits the description? I just don’t get it!

My husband and I adopted a pup from a shelter while living in an apartment. It was supposed to be a small beagle mix … our mutt turned out not to be a beagle. If anything he’s one, one-hundredth beagle. He’s huge. When he outgrew the apartment, so did we. We had to move out and go somewhere that accepted big dogs. That just happened to be us moving into a house, which luckily fit into our budget and life at the time.

When moving from station to station, it’s understandable that animals may not be able to travel. But here’s the thing, would you leave your child behind because housing didn’t have a house with enough rooms in it? No. Your child would come along anyway; you would make it work. Puppies and kittens are easy to re-home, 12-year old animals, not so much. You have been that animal’s life and love support for 12 years and now you’re just pushing it off on someone and charging a re-homing fee? Come on! There are websites and services to help with relocating your animal with you as you PCS. Visit www.pcspets.com/military-pet-relocation for some good tips and tricks.

Deployments (and long military school training) can be tricky. If you don’t have Family or friends to take care of your animals while you’re gone, there are other options.

DogsonDeployment.com is just one of the many services available to help out deploying military members. This organization, if certain criteria are met, will help you find a foster Family for your animal while you are away. I mean, how awesome is that?! I wish I had known about that three years ago, when my husband was deployed and I was sent to six months of military training. I had to find another Family for my dogs and it was the most heartbreaking thing ever. Fortunately, I did the right research and found the perfect Family for them and they lived out a happy, wonderful life (in which the Family sent pictures and updates every so often of my fur babies). I think that is why I’m so passionate about animals just being abandoned or given away for reasons that could have been prevented.

Take care of your animals people. They are Family. After all, 19th century humorist and lecturer, Josh Billings said it best, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”