Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Moving season is a stressful time for soldiers and their families between finding housing, packing up the family belongings and coordinating transportation. Sometimes the stress of moving can include not being able to take the family pet to the new duty station.
It can be an emotional and stressful process letting go of a pet that has become part of the family. To help make the transition as seamless as possible for the owner and the pet, the Fort Leavenworth Stray Facility has a relinquishment policy in place.
“Unfortunately, some people just fall on hard times and they have to get rid of their animal,” said Jeff Honey, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation chief recreation officer. “That’s why it is a judgement-free zone (at the Stray Facility). You can’t judge people because of some of the things that they’re going through.”
Honey said there are several benefits to the relinquishment policy.
“Once the immediate owner sees how much we care for the animal, it takes a lot of stress off them,” he said. “They know that the animal is in good hands, and we’re asking all the right questions so that animal, their family member, is going to go to a good home, and we’re not just going to give it to anybody off the street that wants an animal. Hopefully, it makes it a lot less stressful for both (the owner and the pet) that we’ve kind of been that conduit so that they don’t have to be both the broker and the dealer as far as trying to make those two pieces of the puzzle come together.”
Honey said using the relinquishment policy makes things better for future owners as well.
“The future owner knows what they’re getting into with us as far as the medical paperwork, and they know it has been (micro)chipped,” he said. “It is a fresh start for the animal and for the future owner.”
Using the FLSF relinquishment policy offers current owners, future owners and pets opportunities that listings on sites such as Craigslist don’t offer, Honey said.
“It is a different environment than taking a stranger into your home. We get the animal out of that environment so that the future owners can see what they’re like, how they would be, how they would interact with different people,” Honey said. “The most important thing is making sure that all the medical and behavior things are squared away before that animal goes to a future owner.
“If the animal has medical issues, that’s going to help us find (the right) future home for that animal because sometimes people don’t want to take on an animal that needs a lot of medical care. Sometimes people do. It all depends on the level of ownership that you’re at,” he said. “If the animal goes home with (the wrong) person, and they have to bring it back, then that really confuses the animal if we have to place it in 15 different homes and go through that process numerous times. It’s not really a good combination.”
Along with the relinquishment policy, the FLSF will also post courtesy listings of pets to the FLSF Petfinder page as an alternative to Craigslist.
“People can do that months in advance if they know they are not going to keep the animal or not PCS with it,” said Janet Dick, FLSF volunteer. “That would be the ideal situation versus dumping them or posting them on Craigslist. That would be the safest route for the animal, too.”
The relinquishment policy is usable by any pet owners living on post as long as the animal is not aggressive and the facility has room for the animal. There is a relinquishment fee of $25. If the animal is not neutered, microchipped or up-to-date on shots, there is an additional $25 for each service. Courtesy listings can be done for anyone affiliated with Fort Leavenworth. For more information, call the FLSF at 684-4939 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.