A PAWfect weekend with Dogs On Deployment
This weekend was one of my favorite times of the year! Norma and I traveled to Los Angeles to attend a board meeting for Dogs On Deployment, Inc. and the Annual American Humane Society Hero Dog Awards in Beverly Hills, California.
Dogs on Deployment (“DoD”) is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit providing a central network for military members to find volunteers willing to board their pets while they are deployed or have other service commitments, making them unable to temporarily care for their pets. The organization was founded by the Patriot Pilot Power couple, Alisa (US Marine Pilot) and Shawn Johnson (former Navy Pilot). I'm honored to serve as DoD's General Counsel and Board Member.
As an infantry-Marine who went on to serve as a Navy JAG and dog poppa to two crazy boxers, this organization is near and dear to my heart. This blog isn't one of my traditional "photography" blogs since my primary focus wasn't on taking pictures while I was there (though I did take a few). When it comes to dogs (and those who serve in our Armed Forces), there's a dozen issues that I could focus on. For example, I could spend an entire post on the issue of animal cruelty, especially as it pertains ending dog fighting once and for all. In fact, this year's "Hero Award" went to a pit-bull mix named Abigail. She's special in many regards. When her foster parents found her she was close to death, anemic, tick and flea infested, and half her face was ripped off down to the ear drum. Through love and care she was saved and nurtured back to health. To cover her scars, her owners began using bonnets...she rose to internet fame through her Facebook page known as "Bonnets for Abigail." She's special because she's a reminder of the reality and cruelty of dog fighting. She's special because she survived. For us at DoD, she’s very special because her owner's chose DoD as her "Charity Partner." Because Abigail won the Hero Dog award, DoD was awarded a total of $7500! On behalf of DoD, I send a huge THANK YOU to Abigail's family and to American Humane for doing what they do.
Those who have served in our Nation's Armed Forces know all too well how stressful deployment can be. A deployment means leaving your loved ones behind for months at a time. Preparing for deployment is daunting and stressful in so many regards; not only do you have to plan to ensure life at home continues as normal as possible while you're gone, you have must ensure your financial affairs are in order, including the preparation of a will in case the worst happens. On top of mentally preparing yourself, you face the pressure of mentally preparing your loved ones to deal with your absence. For pet owners, figuring out what to do with their furry family members is another source of stress. Before DoD was formed, service members without local family members (or great friends) who were willing to care for their pets had few options. Often, service members were forced to put their pets up for adoption. Through DoD, life-time pet ownership for service members is a real option by connecting military pet owners with volunteers (known as DoD Boarders) that are willing to board their pets during their service commitments.
Keep in mind, deployments do not just happen during war-time. Even during times of peace, military pet owners routinely deploy either as part of their training and careers in the military. If you love your Country, if you honor those who sacrifice and put their lives on the line in military service, and if you love pets, then help DoD by PAWticipating either through donations, sponsorships, and/or serving as a boarder. You can also volunteer at your local DoD chapter. I know our Austin Chapter really needs your help!