Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Pentagon Wants Tougher Punishment for Troops Who Abandon Pets

Troops abandoning their pets when they get deployed overseas is a problem the military has been grappling with for a while. Now the Department of Defense wants to try and alleviate the problem by toughening punishment for members of the U.S. military who leave their dogs or cats behind without a home.

Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale told the Stars and Stripes the Department of Defense has asked President Barack Obama to change the current Pentagon policy on pet abandonment:

Troops already can be charged with “dereliction of duty” and “conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline” for abandoning or physically harming their family pets, Breasseale said. But specifying the bad behavior in the Manual for Courts-Martial — the rulebook for prosecutions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice — would strengthen those cases and increase the chance of prosecution.

The Stars and Stripes reports the president is expected to rule on the Pentagon's request this spring.

The issue of military pet abandonment is one that weighs heavy on the hearts of former military couple Shawn and Alisa Johnson. Back when they were in the service, the couple was faced with the quandary of what to do with their beloved dogs when they were both about to be deployed at the same time. They had family to rely on, but realized countless other troops were put in the same situation as them.

So, they started a non-profit group in June of 2011 called Dogs on Deployment. The group tries to find temporary loving homes for service members' pets when they are deployed. If you are a service member in need of pet boarding, or if you'd like to volunteer to board a service member's pet, click here.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.