The Dogs of War

Foster programs try to save departing soldiers' critters from becoming casualties

"We want to have it so people can find very quickly who in their area has this program," French says. "There are a lot of animals being neglected."

Michele Reynolds, executive director of the Beaumont-based Humane Society of Southeast Texas, says she doesn't have the shelter space to foster military pets. "We don't have enough foster homes to foster the animals we bring in every day," she says. "We're always full to capacity." But she plans to speak to the shelter's board to see if they can come up with an idea on how to handle the military pets.

Raymond Harris, veterinarian for Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, says BARC hasn't had a deluge of pets dropped off by soldiers, so it hasn't created a foster program. Neither has the Houston Humane Society or the Houston SPCA.

Houstonian Yvonne David, operations manager for Special Pals, who calls herself the "leader of the pack," doesn't want to set up foster homes -- she wants to find permanent homes for military pets. She asks soldiers to relinquish custody of their cats or dogs, saying it will be better for the pets.

She says she can save more pets if she can place them permanently, since civilians see adopting a military pet as helping the cause -- like buying war bonds. So far, she's received only a couple of calls from soldiers, and they all had big dogs (she takes only dogs weighing less than 20 pounds). She referred those callers to breed rescue leagues.

The daughter of a Marine Corps drill instructor, David tells soldiers they might not return -- and she wants their pets to have stable homes. If a soldier dies, she says, the dog could be bounced around from foster home to foster home and she wants to do what's best for the beast.

"I say, 'Look, guys, be realistic,' " David says. "When you go off to war, you don't know how long you're going to be, or, unfortunately, if you're going to come back or not."

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