Onslow Co. Animal Shelter: Military Deployments Create Pet Issues

By: April Davis/ Carly Swain
By: April Davis/ Carly Swain

There are ups and downs to living in a military town. One down side is families and military members being uprooted to follow orders. But often, those orders do not have room for pets, and those animals have to be left behind.

"We're having a number of owner surrenders by military members that are deploying," said Onslow County Animal Shelter Director Alan Davis.

"In 2010, we had 1400 owner surrenders and in 2011 we had 1600-- so we had an increase of 200 dogs and cats."

Volunteer Alex Douglas says he sees it often. Douglas was on hand when a 10 month old golden lab was forced to say goodbye. Davis says he understands military orders, but after so many are left- he says the lack of planning just gets frustrating.

Beyond the last minute drop offs before deployment, Davis says sometimes it's just a lack of pet owner education leading to animals being left for adoption. If you think you just can't keep the animal, there are some tricks to try before giving them up.

Behavioral issues are one reason why several people decide it's time to give up a pet. However, veterinarians and animal experts agree: Spaying and neutering is not just about the sexuality of the animal. It can also really calm down their hormones and make them a cuddle buddy.

"Many times a military wife will be surrendering the dog because... it is the husband's dog, and he didn't really socialize with the entire family," said Davis.

Whether deploying or based at home: Experts say think ahead. Davis says we can keep shelters from being over-run with abandoned animals. Representatives from Camp Lejeune tell us that before any marine deploys, they are supposed to have a family readiness plan in place--that includes plans for their pets. If you are looking to adopt a pet- this month the Onslow County Animal Shelter is running their Adopt a Sweetheart event through February 18th. The adoption fee is waived .


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  • by Robin Location: San Antonio on Feb 5, 2012 at 07:27 AM
    Dumping animals is wrong. They know they may be deployed, so why have them in the first place? The entire community needs to take action for success. No-Kill community action http://www.examiner.com/nonprofit-business-in-national/no-kill-community-action
  • by Anonymous Location: Jacksonville on Feb 4, 2012 at 08:27 AM
    As a military spouse, it drives me nuts when people say they can't keep a dog because they are moving, we've moved crossed country twice with four dogs, 2 of which are bullies breeds and I survived 6 deployments so far without having to get rid of them. It's pure laziness and an excuse when people say it can't be done. It's harder yes but not impossable.
  • by opportunity on Feb 3, 2012 at 03:48 PM
    Sounds like a great business venture. Board one or two of them and make a little extra cash without taking advantage of course.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 3, 2012 at 01:03 PM
    They should not be allowed to have pets because of the possibility of deployment and this problem happening. No one HAS to have an animal unless its for therapy or they are handicapped. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our military but no need to own a dog or cat only to leave it behind somewhere. Really kind of cruel.
  • by Entirely Avoidable on Feb 3, 2012 at 06:14 AM
    There is no good reason that shelters in military towns should be overrun with surrenders at a time of heavy deployment. People should be responsible when considering adopting a pet and be sure to have a contingency plan in place for deployment. I volunteer with a breed rescue that will not adopt to active duty military personnel unless they present a plan for their pet in the case of deployment. It is unfortunate that pets are seen as disposable by so many individuals.
  • by Patrice Location: Beaufort Co. on Feb 3, 2012 at 05:53 AM
    Maybe as a service to our military, we could foster these pets until they return.
  • by dog lover Location: jacksonville on Feb 3, 2012 at 05:16 AM
    to ncyankee its not that military should not be allowed animals thats a biast thing to say. Ive been in the military for 12 years and love my animals dearly and wouldnt give them up for nothing. Ive seen a lot of people that have had to give there pets up because the people in this town wont allow renters to have pets or certain breeds. If more places opened up there homes to animals there would be less being tossed in the shelter as well. And just as many non-military do the same dang thing to their pets when they just dont want them anymore. So don't judge if you dont know what the heck your talking about.
  • by ncyankee Location: goldsboro on Feb 3, 2012 at 04:50 AM
    this is sad, as a vet, when in the military, had an animal, and kept it..there is no reason why military personnel can not keep their pets. if they cant care for them dont have one period..then they get deployed, upon returning they get another one, and guess what, same ol same ol, the animal is taken to the pound, would they give up their children. know this will t-someone off. but get real, simply, military should be allowed animals period....
  • by SBK Location: Belhaven on Feb 2, 2012 at 09:55 PM
    I got my pup from a Marine that was transferred with very little notice to a place where he couldn't have a dog. I've had her for three years now. She's a Golden Retriever named Saydee and she's the best friend I've got. We're a team.
  • by Cindy Location: NC on Feb 2, 2012 at 08:26 PM
    Dogs are people too.
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