PCS Travel Arrangements for Pets

(U.S. Air Force/Joshua J. Seybert)
(U.S. Air Force/Joshua J. Seybert)

Imagine coming home after a long day of work, walking into the house and being greeted by an animal who is excited to have you home.

"Man's best friend," his four-legged child, seems to always be ready to cuddle, go for a run or just be there when no one else is; could you imagine moving without them?

Moving across the country or around the world can be a stressful experience, but adding a cat or dog to the process can make the experience even more complicated. However, preparation can help reduce stress of moving a furry friend.

"It is crucial to get into the veterinary office to see what is needed prior to a permanent change of station," said U.S. Army Capt. Curtis Cline, U.S. Army Public Health command veterinarian. "Pet owners need to be proactive in finding out what to do to prepare their animals, especially if PCSing overseas."

On top of finding out what a pet needs from a veterinarian prior to PCSing, there is a newly formed volunteer group on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which can provide military pet owners with PCSing and deploying assistance.

"There are a lot of pet owners, and finding someone to help take care of their animal or get their animal ready to move, becomes stressful," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Ostendorf, 307th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations.

Pets Awaiting Warriors, or PAWS, provides military owners with information and support during deployments and PCS moves.

"One of the things we address is the stress on families during PCS moves," said Ostendorf, a PAWS volunteer. "We always hear about the good things we bring to the community, but there are some hidden costs. One of the minor things is when someone deploys or moves and cannot take their pet with them. Some people turn the pet into the animal shelter hoping it will be adopted, when in fact about 4,000 are euthanized every year, which is approximately 12 animals a day. To prevent this from happening, we provide information and contacts to charities like Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet and NetPet."

Airmen can begin preparing a pet before receiving notice of a PCS, which will lessen the stress when moving day arrives.

"A military member can be proactive as soon as they get on base by staying up-to-date with the pet's vaccines and paperwork, and getting their animal properly micro-chipped, which will record every vaccine given, after it has been placed," Cline said.

If records and vaccines are not up-to-date while PCSing overseas, a quarantine may be placed on an animal, which could costs roughly $17 a day for up to three months. Cline recommends owners preparing for a PCS to a quarantine area start saving money early.

"The bottom line for any pet owner out there is to start early," Ostendorf said. "Get the information early, so you can get a jump on getting your pet registered. Even if you are three years out from a PCS, you could microchip this year and keep everything updated."

For more information on PCS requirements, visit www.aphis.usda.gov.

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