BSL & the U.S. Military

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Via the latest issue of Dog’s Life e-newsletter, I found a link to this alarming story, by Steve Dale at www.goodnewsforpets.com: Dump the Dog is Military’s Message to Families with Targeted ‘Bad’ Breeds.

That’s right, folks: breed specific legislation, coming soon to military housing near you:

Lots of dog breeds will no longer be allowed on military housing property, according to new policy announced in a memo stamped January 5 from the United States Department of the Army. According to sources, the directive was approved by the Pentagon just prior to President George W. Bush leaving office.

The subject line of the memo reads: “Pet Policy for Privatized Housing Under the Army’s Residential Communities Initiative Privatization Program. Pit Bulls (American Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows and wolf hybrids are now banned.” […]

According to the ruling, dogs of any type who currently live on base can be grandfathered in. However, Lynde points out that families are frequently being asked to re-locate. When they do, they can no longer bring their banned dogs with them. Similarly, new enlistees must leave their dogs at home if they’re indentified as a banned breed.

Then what happens to any banned dogs identified and then forcibly relinquished by transferring military? Lynde says, “No one seems to have that answer.”

With morale already low on military bases, according to Lynde, she believes the ruling has already begun to further impact morale. “What kind of family support is this? I tried to communicate with the Garrison Comander’s Office (at Fort Bragg), but I got nowhere,” she says.

Military families whose members include so-called “dangerous” dog breeds, such as pit bulls, rottweilers, doberman pinschers, chow chows and wolf hybrids (!?) – or any mutt whose lineage includes or even resembles these breeds – may, under the new housing policy, be forced to relinquish their canines. If they’re unable to find a trusted friend or family member to take the animals, presumably they’ll have no choice but to surrender their beloved dogs to animal shelters, where many will be killed for lack of homes.

Simply put, this is a travesty. We already demand far too much of our military members and their families – we send them overseas, to fight and die in capricious, pointless wars; we deny them proper physical and psychological care, both in the battlefield and here at home; we ignore the high rates of sexual assault perpetrated against women in the military; we actively discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons who want nothing more than to serve their country; we fail to provide care for the non-human members of military families when the caregivers are deployed or on active duty; and now, the U.S. government is attempting to eradicate a targeted segment of their non-human family members, based on nothing other than naked prejudice, stereotypes and hysteria. Shameful, just shameful.

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(More below the fold…)

Seven ways to "support the troops" on Veterans Day (and the other 364 days of the year).

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Because slapping a gaudy yellow ribbon on the back of your SUV simply won’t do.

1. Volunteer to foster a soldier’s companion animal(s) while he or she is stationed overseas.

There exist very few programs to help members of the military care for their companion animals while they are stationed overseas. Unless soldiers can recruit a family member to house and care for their “pets” while they are away, soldiers are forced to relinquish their animals – to a “pound,” a shelter, or an adoption group.

Between 6 and 8 millions dogs and cats enter U.S. shelters every year. Of these, half are euthanized murdered.

By fostering a soldier’s companion animal(s), you can save an animal’s life, and also ensure a happy reunion between a soldier and her furry friend(s) when she returns from serving her country – i.e., you.

How it works: many of the programs I’ve seen match potential foster homes with soldiers in need, based on a number of factors, including location, type of animal, and caregiver preferences. These groups are generally nonprofits, and finances are limited; consequently, veterinary and food costs, as well as terms and conditions, are usually negotiated between the soldier and caregiver.

To get started, check out Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet and Operation Noble Foster.

If you live near a U.S. military base, you may also want to check with local veterinarians to see if they can help match you up with soldiers in need locally. Alternately, you can coordinate with your local veterinarians to start a grassroots foster program in your area – even if you yourself are not in a position to foster an animal.

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: ACT NOW/ Don’t Let Soldiers Kill Dog In Iraq

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

Update, 10/20/08, via Care2:

Great news! Thanks to you and the hard work of the good folks at SPCA, Operation Baghdad Pups, M.A.R.S. Safe Haven and M.A.R.S. Productions, Ratchet, the adopted Iraqi puppy, is now on a plane en route to the United States!

Here’s the wonderful story as told by M.A.R.S. Safe Haven, the sponsors of the Clemency for Ratchet petition:

“Operation Baghdad Pups program manager, Terri Crisp, and Ratchet met at the Baghdad airport tonight and boarded a plane bound for the U.S. After SPCA International received military clearance on Wednesday, October 15, for Ratchet’s travel, the organization set this final rescue plan into action. Last week, the world got behind Ratchet and Spc. Beberg’s plight; an online petition collected over 65,000 signatures pleading for Ratchet’s release.

“Crisp and Ratchet are scheduled to arrive at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC on Monday afternoon. Ratchet will be cleared by the Center for Disease Control and given a thorough medical evaluation by a local Virginia veterinarian. As long as Ratchet receives a clean bill of health, he will fly to his final destinations, Minneapolis, MN, on Wednesday.

“Northwest Airlines, a Minnesota base company, generously donated Ratchet and Crisp’s flights from Kuwait to Minneapolis, MN.

“You can receive future updates on continued efforts to help our men and women in the Armed Forces adopt their pets and bring about change to the military’s policies on this issue: info [at] mars-safehaven.net

“Saving Private Ratchet has wonderful gifts with all proceeds going to the SPCA: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AbLiE/W1DG/qBhr

“Read more from the SPCA: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AbLif/W1DG/qBhr

Also, I’ve posted an update from Kinship Circle after the original KC alert.

(More below the fold…)

sacrificial lambs

Monday, May 28th, 2007

The following prose isn’t entirely appropriate for the occasion, but all the tributes to military and working dogs I could find were gratuitously speciesist in nature. The only authentic poem in this genre seems to be the oft-repeated Rags, but…that’s not really Memorial Day fare, either.

So, in lieu of a schizophrenically sentimental tribute to working animals, a tribute to companions everywhere – along with a gentle reminder to love, honor, and cherish them today, tomorrow, and the day after…because you never know when the tomorrows will turn to yesterdays.

For our nation’s soldiers… Bring them home. All of them.

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I Am Your Dog

I am your dog, and I have a little something I would like to whisper in your ear.

I know that you humans lead busy lives. Some have to work. Some have children to raise. It always seems like you are running here and there, often much too fast, often never noticing the truly grand things in life.

Look down at me now, while you sit there at your computer. See, the way my dark brown eyes look at yours. They are slightly cloudy now. That comes with age. The gray hairs are beginning to ring my soft muzzle.

You smile at me; I see love in your eyes. What do you see in mine? Do you see a spirit? A soul inside, who loves you as no other could in the world? A spirit that would forgive all trespasses of prior wrongdoing for just a simple moment of your time?

That is all I ask. To slow down, if even for a few minutes to be with me.

So many times, you have been saddened by the words you read on that screen, of other of my kind, passing. Sometimes we die young and oh so quickly, sometimes so suddenly it wrenches your heart out of your throat. Sometimes, we age so slowly before your eyes that you may not even seem to know until the very end, when we look at you with grizzled muzzles and cataract clouded eyes. Still the love is always there, even when we must take that long sleep, to run free in a distant land.

I may not be here next week. Someday you will shed the water from your eyes, that humans have when deep grief fills their souls, and you will be angry at yourself that you did not have just “One more day” with me. Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have NOW, together.

So come, sit down here next to me on the floor, and look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me, not as “alpha” or as “trainer” or even “Mom or Dad,” come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur and let us look deep into another’s eyes, and talk.

I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself or even life in general. You decided to have me in your life because you wanted a soul to share such things with.

Someone very different from you, and here I am.

I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a “Dog on two feet” – I know what you are. You are human, in all of your quirkiness, and I love you still.

Now, come sit with me on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if only for 15 minutes. Look deep into my eyes, and whisper to my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy and I will know your true self.

We may not have tomorrow, and life is oh so very short.

–Love, (on behalf of canines everywhere)

Author Unknown

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Photo via slagheap

Caption:

Lance Cpl. Charles E. Byerly, a 20-year-old dog handler, shows his dog Danny, 10, some love at Camp Habbaniyah, Iraq, Sept. 1. He wanted to care for his four-legged companion before they head back for Danny’s retirement in Camp Lejeune, N.C. Danny has deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one to Djibouti, Africa as a military working dog fighting insurgents with Marines. After the dog’s retirement Byerly will adopt his battle buddy. Byerly is from Mars, Pa., and is currently serving a seven-month deployment with 3rd Battallion, 2nd Marine Regiment in the Habbaniyah area under Regimental Combat Team 5.

Photo by: Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
Submitting Unit: 1st Marine Division
Cleared for Release

To open your heart and home to a soldier’s companion, start at http://www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org.

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