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Military Families Moving with Pets

Relocating alone is difficult, add in military status and animal companions, it could be downright nightmarish. Many who serve in the military often change bases and need to move, this is called a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). The soldier, the soldier’s spouse, and children are included in the order. Many of these families have pets and they understandably do not want to be separated from them. In order to ensure families don’t get separated, the soldier is responsible for organizing the transportation for the pets, including the flight reservation and ticket price.

Having Pets in the Military

If you do decide to have pets, there is typically is breed and quantity limit. For example, some bases will only allow two dogs that are not “bully breeds”. This isn’t always the case, some bases may allow all breeds of dogs, however, the area in which the base is located may prohibit specific breeds, looking at you, bitey chihuahua. While your breed may be allowed on base, you will not be allowed to leave the premises. All vet visits and vaccinations need to be documented and available for proof.

Areas of Relocation

In the event you are moving to Hawaii, they have quite an extensive list of vaccinations and requirements, such as quarantine. For those who are traveling to another country, or perhaps overseas, you must notify the Department of Agriculture, the base you are moving to, as well as research any material you may need for the country you are moving to. Europe requires proof of vaccinations and veterinary documents, but no quarantine, except for Ireland and Sweden. Japan, Guam, and Korea also require quarantine.

These are the allowances for soldiers who are married, though in very rare instances a house or apartment may be assigned to a single soldier. For the soldiers who are not placed in a home, they are assigned to a barracks room. No pets are allowed in the barracks.


PCS that are state-to-state tend to be the easiest moves, though rules and restrictions vary. If you are driving, it is highly recommended that you train your dog before the trip. You may offer your dog a treat after going potty, or use a rechargable dog shock collar when they refuse to obey commands, such as sit, stay, et cetera.

Travel via plane requires due diligence. It is up to you to notify the airline and research the crate requirements, as well as their general pet policy as some airlines prohibit pet travelers altogether. A good tip to acquaint your pet with a new crate if you don’t have one is to place the crate in a familiar area. By doing this you are allowing your pet to explore it before being crated unknowingly.

Tie Up Loose Ends

Be sure to seek out pet-friendly hotels along your route before moving, stopping at rest stops so your dog can relieve themselves. Feed your pet four to five hours before leaving to avoid accidents, and feed again when you stop for the night. It is imperative that you bring your pet’s license and veterinary documentation.

If at all possible, ask a friend or family member to supervise your pet during moving day, this will make your jobs much easier because you won’t have to constantly worry about your pet’s whereabouts. This person should be someone who has experience with animals and is aware of any and all health problems, including allergies.

Inability to Bring Your Pet

Although sad, it is very possible that you may have to leave your precious pet behind. There are many routes you can take to rehome or board your pet while you are away. The first and best option would be to ask a close friend or family member to take custody. This does not mean to give them to the first person to accept your pet, they may be elderly, inexperienced, or inactive in your pet’s life.

The military may be able to assist you with boarding your pet, though they are not typically used for long-term boarding. Their main focus is with those who are deploying or those who are in emergency situations. Fostering is a service that is offered and may last up to six months. This is the route taken when a soldier is moved to another country and their companion cannot travel at the same time for one reason or another. The military may also reimburse you up to $550 for quarantine fees. It is required that your pet be spayed or neutered and up-to-date with all vaccinations and documents.

Rehoming Your Pet

This is the option that nobody wants to take but sometimes is inevitable. If you find yourself in a situation where you must surrender your pet, you must research where your pet will be going when you leave. You may trust your friend with your animal’s wellbeing, but when you leave they may be less likely to care for and exercise your pet. Your parents may offer to take your pet, but depending on their age and experience, sometimes that is not the best idea, either. You must be 100% sure that your pet will be cared for properly for the entire duration of your leave. Do not give your dog to a stranger or a person on the Internet, these animals are often used for a more grim reason than companionship. Pets for Patriots is a well known, organization that assists in the adoption and fostering process to ensure your pet is safe. Not all people may be helped as they are non-profit.

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