Special Segment: Pet-sitting for troops

November 26, 2008 9:44:03 AM PST
It is the last thing a member of the armed forces needs to worry about when being deployed. What can military servicemen and women do when no one can take care of their precious pet? Some people are now "Pet Sitting for Troops."

Tucker the lab is quickly becoming part of the Schinler family. He's recently been living in Rogers Park with Amy Schinler, her husband and their own dog. "I got a phone call on a Sunday afternoon that said, Amy how would you like to foster a dog? I'm like, ok" said Schinler.

Schinler was on a list for 8 months when she got that call. It was from a non profit group, "Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pets" based out of Arkansas. The goal: to unite pets with a loving, safe family while their "parents" - all in the U.S. Armed Forces- are off to war.

Schinler said, "A lot of these people when they deploy they are young and single and even some have families but they are young families and they can't care for an animal when the soldier is gone."

Schinler is one of only 3 foster pet parents in Illinois, enrolled in the guardian angels program so far. She's the only one in the Chicago-land area. She got tucker in May from Sgt. David Goben in Carbondale, Illinois. He's now on a mission in Afghanistan.

Goben said, "It definitely takes a lot off my plate" We talked to Sgt. Goben via "SKYPE" - from a café in Afghanistan. He said, "Being in the military you go when they ask you to go and we did know ahead however you can never plan enough you can never plan too far ahead it came down to the bottom line of me wanting to find a good home for him."

The Guardian Angels for pets has about 30 pets placed across the U.S. The director says there is a screening and meet and greet process for the volunteer foster parents. Some even offer to pay for the pet's expenses.

"I think it's really important for them to know that this animal that's a part of their family is taken care of," said Deanna Guthrie, a hopeful foster-pet-mom-to-be. Uptown residents Deanna and Brian Guthrie are one of 550 people on the guardian angels waiting list. Brian Guthrie said, "They are interrupting their lives to go over seas and we believe our dog is a part of our family so we want to support other people who also believe that."

Schinler sends home videos to Sergeant Goben to stay connected to Tucker -but more importantly- What does he have to say to his dog from the warzone? "You take care of yourself buddy and I'll be back in two shakes of a doggy's tail I guess ha!" Goben laughed.

Schinler responded , "He's an adorable sweet dog and ill be sad when he goes but I really hope ill get to be that sad and I get to cry because that means David came home and he's safe." Sergeant Goben is scheduled to come home at the end of the summer.

"Net Pets"-is another non-profit foster pet agency. Its director says it's placed 12 thousand pets worldwide since 9-11. If you want to volunteer or you are one of the armed forces in need of a pet sitter, you can check out the Web sites:


guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org

netpets.org


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