Dogs on Deployment and Hawaii Military Pets are joining forces to ask the Department of Defense to create a military standard for pet ownership. The current pet ownership policies vary not only on the branch of service, but also by location.
The military is aware of the stress caused by the continuous relocation of military families. Those with pets shouldn’t have to worry about whether their pet will be welcome in a new city. Creating a military standard that would be the same for those living on base and also for those living in government housing would simplify relocating with a pet. The military would partner with off base housing partners to ensure the same conditions of pet ownership apply to both.
The Marine Corp and the Navy currently allow two pets per family, while the Army and Air Force leave it up to the installation. There are also rules in place with each branch as to banned breeds. The Army and Air Force ban Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Chows and Wolf hybrids. The Marine Corp has a ban on Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Wolf hybrids, while the Navy differs by installation.
The problem remains that a lot of military families have mixed breed dogs. Since most shelters have at best an educated guess on a mixed breed, and DNA on dogs isn’t a reliable tool, most installations have to depend on a signed statement that the family doesn’t own a breed of dog considered dangerous.
In 2003, a study conducted by Prince George’s County, Maryland determined there was no real evidence that banning certain breeds created a safer public environment. In a CDC study conducted around the same time, it was determined factors such as chaining a dog, keeping an intact male, or animal abuse played more of a part than the dogs breed.
Recommendations on a consistent military standard policy include
*Require all pets to be registered with the base veterinarian, be micro-chipped, up to date on vaccinations and have rabies licensing
*Create a breed-neutral zero tolerance policy for any dangerous dog
*Adjust private contracts with housing partners for consistency and breed neutrality
*Require owners to meet city/country pet standards
*Create a consistent number of pets allowed per household. Pet limitations might be based on house square footage, and differentiate between cat, dog, avian or aquarium limitations
*Remove weight limitations. Large breed dog owners should not be punished if their dog is a well-behaved family pet
*Observe and enforce leash and anti-tethering laws
*Promote proper pet socialization by including a leash-free dog park in the base neighborhoods
Not only will implementing a military standard for pet ownership improve the emotional stability within the military family, it will also keep pets out of the shelter due to relocation to on-base or government housing where pets aren’t welcome.
A petition to standardize military pet policies is available at www.change.org/petitions/standardize-military-pet-policies