9 Resources for Military Pet Owners Living or Moving Overseas
For military pet owners, PCSing your furry family member to or from OCONUS is stressful. AND EXPENSIVE. Maybe it’s your first overseas duty station as a military pet owner. Or maybe your just trying to get your pet home after years abroad.
Either way, here are 9 associations that can help military pet owners with transportation and expenses.
I’ve been meaning to engage with the OCONUS military pet owner community for some time now. In light on the recent United Airlines Pet Safe program changes that have recently come into effect, now is as good a time as any.
For most military pet owners the challenge in PCSing with pets is two fold. One, trying to coordinate military pet travel without all your hair falling out. And two, trying to reduce the costs of your pet(s) PCS, which often mushrooms into the several thousand dollar range.
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IPATA or International Pet & Animal Travel Association shippers are essentially travel agents for your furry family members. They know the ins and outs of animal cargo shipping guidelines. And can help you make travel engagements for your pet(s) without circling the airline customer service drain.
If you want to skip the headache of calling airlines, then an IPATA shipper is for you.
Vet bills, airline fees, and animal control permits will add up, so foregoing a IPATA shipper is a tempting way to save cash. However, several airlines require IPATA coordinated travel arrangements. Make your first question to customer service “Do you require an IPATA shipper required to fly pets from X to Y?” Then proceed appropriately.
The SPCA recognizes the high cost of PCSing with military pets and launched Operation Military Pets in 2013. If your pet’s travel expenses exceed $600 then you are eligible to apply for a relocation grant. And they award up to $1000.
I can’t speak highly enough about this program. My puppies were lucky enough to be grant recipients in 2017! We received $900 towards the United Airlines Pet Safe bill when PCSing to Guam!
Related Post: An Expat in Guam: What I Miss About Living Stateside
Animal control regulations require several vaccinations before importing or exporting a pet. But our previous CONUS duty station the only required one vaccine (Rabies) within city limits. So we spent a lot of money on vet bills before we moved OCONUS. $1217 to be exact.
To help pet owners cover the cost of veterinary care Care Cap joined up with The Pet Fund. Together they offer flexible payment plans which allow for financing your military pet’s vet bills for a 1% fee.
Pro tip: don’t put your PCS on plastic until you’ve looked into your current fees and APR rate. In coordination with the Service-members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) many credit card companies offer credit benefits to service members. Some companies waive annual fees and late payment fees. Other companies offer rates could be as low as 4%! More information here.
Much like Care Cap + The Pet Fund, CareCredit offers pet owners a means to finance veterinary bills. With the right introductory promotion and credit history, you could pay 0% for 24 months. If you apply for the CareCredit card in advance of veterinary service.
But if you’re not “credit worthy”, or if you don’t pay off the card within the 0% window, then an outrageous interest rate of 26.99% applies. That’s a sticky situation to be in so proceed with caution!
If CareCredit refuses your request for financing you qualify for an Onyx and Breezy grant. While bills associated with military pet PCS is not a grant category, they seem to have a soft spot for uniformed officers and veterans.
Applicant beware, this foundation takes grant applications to the next level and request the previous years tax return. So only apply for an O&B grant if you suspect your financials would leave you empty handed in finance options for your vet bills, and your comfortable turning over your tax return. And remember, you must coordinate payment in advance so don’t jump the gun.
Warren Buffet’s siblings established The Letters Foundation to assist those in need in overcoming barriers. It is a “foundation of last resort that provides grants to people experiencing a crisis at no fault of their own, when no other option exists.” If you write a letter exemplifying how monumental PCS pet expenses are not your fault, you may be awarded a one time grant.
While the foundation doesn’t specify the average grant value awarded, it shocked me to see the 2017 impact statement. With 201 grants totaling more than $2 million, it’s safe to say the Buffet’s can afford to pay for your military pet(s) to PCS.
Dogs on Deployment may award Pet Chit Financial Assistance to E-6 and below for overseas airline travel and quarantine costs. The grants are awarded to those in need when funding is available. Applicant’s rank, dependent status, amount of request, purpose of request are considered.
As with CareCredit and O&B Foundation, Dogs on Deployment requires assistance be applied for in advance. A Pet Chit will not be awarded to reimburse for a previously paid bill.
Dogs on Deployment also provides a network of doggy foster parents if you decide PCSing your pet is not in your families or your fur babies best interest. They ensure a Boarding & Care Plan is in place to define military pet owner expectations and provide instructions for care. And they recommend a trial weekend-sleep-over to confirm the foster home is a good match.
Like the Dogs on Deployment foster network, PACT’s Military Foster Program can help you find a temporary home for your military pet. They facilitate foster home placement via a foster agreement, which protects the interests of all parties involved.
PACT remains in contact with the foster pet parents for the entirety of the pet placement. And has a network of volunteers should an emergency arise. The foster parents provide regular updates on the foster pets well being. Which can come in the form of email text message, video message, or Facebook post based on the owner’s preference.
Through a network of pilots and volunteers, Pilots N Paws can relocate your pets. While this program is ideal for flights of 3 hours or less, coordination of multiple legs is possible. Most of the flights conducted are within CONUS. However, there is a record of one international relocation on behalf of a military pet owner this year.
I’m pretty excited about this organization, given my husband knows a pilot or two. If my puppies can hitch a ride from Guam to Tokyo, then there are infinitely more options to return them stateside.
PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!
Have you applied for any of these military pet owner grants? Or used the volunteer foster programs or transportation?
Please share how it went!