David A. Bryant

It’s that time of year again — permanent change of station orders come in, families start packing up their households, researching the new duty location for schools, places to live, what the crime rate is like and any number of other tidbits of information they need to know.

But one thing that many soldiers and their families tend to forget about is their pets. I’m pretty sure this column won’t apply to the majority of pet owners, but to those to whom it does, I hope this will make you think about what you’re doing before you leave a furry friend behind.

As a cat-lover myself, our cats moved with us from many duty locations within the Continental U.S. We consider them a part of the family, so the thought of leaving them behind never entered my mind.

While I fully understand that there are going to be times you just can’t take them with you — such as an unexpected tour of duty overseas — I personally can’t figure out how a move to say, Kansas, constitutes a reason to surrender your dog or cat.

Or just abandon them on the side of road because all the local shelters and rescue organizations are full.

After chatting with animal control from the post, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights, each of these areas sees a huge spike in owner surrenders during the summer PCS months. It tends to break the hearts of those who work at these shelters, because if those animals can’t be adopted out, they are euthanized.

I’m afraid I can’t tell you whether Killeen sees a large spike during this time, because apparently that information is considered highly super-duper-ultra-top-secret classified, but I would imagine they see the same problems the rest of the region does.

Some people may just see cats and dogs as dumb animals, but I have to tell you my cats would be devastated if we ever got rid of them. We’ve had our two oldest cats for 11 and 10 years, respectively, and our year-and-a-half old Maine coon is so attached at the hip to my wife, he’d probably starve himself to death without her.

Yep, they do have feelings. I’m sure any dog-lover would be able to tell you the same about the canine species.

The only thing I ask of you during this particular season is to think long and hard before you give up or abandon your pets prior to moving somewhere within the U.S. If you feel it will be too difficult to move around with pets, then don’t get one until you’re out of active service and will no longer worry about moving.

It’s not just the animals who will be hurting as they go from having a home and someone to love them to a cage and possible death by euthanizations. It is the people working at the shelters whose hearts break a little more every time they have to put one of your pets down.

And one day, it will be your children hurting, when they realize what really happened to their beloved pet.

David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at dbryant@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7554.

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