Pet and Family Experience: Navigating Military Life with Furry Companions

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 1, 2024

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Pets are a wonderful addition to life. They help when you feel lonely and are the perfect addition to the family as a furry companion. But for military families, life with a pet can be a bit more complicated, especially if you receive PCS orders.

It’s a fact that military families tend to move — putting extra pressure on those that own a pet. Even if you don’t move, certain members of the military get deployed, meaning you could be away from home for months at a time. 

Military life with a pet can be more complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it! If you have to transport your pet across the country, the Department of Defense will help you out. The government recently announced a new policy helping military members out financially when they need to have a pet transported following PCS orders.

With hundreds of drivers that have served in the military, CitizenShipper is by far the best choice for pet transport when you receive PCS orders. Transporters on our marketplace are animal-lovers themselves, plus they often offer discounts for fellow veterans and active service members!

Military families can benefit from having a pet.

The Vital Role of Pets for Military Families

Pets have a vital role they play in family life. Because every family is different, pets can service a variety of roles. 

Research on Pets Easing Strains of Military Lifestyle

  • Pets are a constant reminder that life can be beautiful. 
  • Studies have shown that pets significantly reduce stress, anxiety and depression. 
  • This is especially true for families dealing with crises. 
  • When it comes to military families, pets can reduce stress when dealing with deployments and long separations.
  • Pets offer your family emotional support during difficult periods of time.

Impacts of Frequent Relocation on Pet Health and Behavior

Moving impacts the entire family. Children have a hard time adapting themselves to a new school, a new house and a new neighborhood. It’s not just children though — parents also experience these difficulties and so do pets.

  • Moving is stressful for pets because they prefer routines. 
  • Pets expect familiarity and routine to come up each day. 
  • They can’t look at clocks like humans can, so they rely on their biological clock to know when you are going to feed them or when you are going to take them for walks.

Moving disrupts that routine for them and it leads to behavioral changes that can affect the entire family. The behavioral changes can range from anxiety to barking to even destructive behavior. Pets can also experience health issues because of these changes. Health problems can range from dietary issues or climate-related issues.

Policies Limiting Number Allowed in Base Housing

Another problem that military families face is the number of pets allowed in base housing. Usually military bases will have restrictions on the number of pets allowed because of logistical or space issues. These limitations have challenges on multi-pet families and navigating that can definitely put stress on members of the military family.

Companionship and protection are just two qualities that pets bring to their military families.

Special Considerations for Multi-Pet Households

When you have several pets living in your home, moving can be a stressful endeavor. There are challenges when you have multiple pets — you have to deal with moving those pets, you have to find housing that will accept not just one but several pets, plus the logistics of the entire process is challenging. Sometimes temporary pet housing is the best choice while you find something permanent.

Compound Challenges for Large and Special Needs Pets

There are many challenges when it comes to transporting any type of pet. But when you’re moving a large animal like a boxer or golden retriever, it causes even more logistical problems. Here’s some reasons preparing to transport large pets can have added steps.

  • Large pets cannot fly in the cabin of an airplane.
  • Instead they’ll have to be in the cargo area, which can be dangerous for the pet both emotionally and physically.
  • Ground transportation is a better option for large pets. 

If you have a special-needs pet, transportation can be equally difficult. You’ll absolutely want to choose a ground-based pet transporter that can provide medicine, exercise or attend to any other needs during the trip. When you fly a dog, they have to remain in their carrier for the entire trip, making it difficult to aid a special-needs pet.

Creative Solutions from Experienced Military Pet Owners

The reality is that the military is a family. That’s why you should rely on experienced military pet owners for help and advice. Families that have large pets or special needs pets have created resourceful lists that provide information for assistance.

  • Reaching out to other military families that have pets is always a smart idea.
  • They’ll give you the advice so you take the correct route. 
  • Support networks go a long way..

There are pet transporters that specialize in large or special needs pets. One of the best ways to find a transporter that accommodates your needs is using CitizenShipper. Instead of reaching out to multiple transportation companies to get a quote and learn if they can handle your pet’s needs, you just need to post one listing. Then you’ll receive quotes from multiple transporters within minutes.

Arguments Around Restricting Certain Dog Breeds

If you’re someone that has a pet that’s restricted from certain areas, this could be a contentious issue. Safety is usually the primary reason that some companies, airlines and even temporary housing have restrictions on certain breeds.

  • People that own these types of breeds argue that the owner is responsible for the actions of the pet breed. 
  • It’s important that the owner is effective in how the particular pet breed is trained. 
  • They also argue that there should be assessments on individual pets based on their temperament before making a decision instead of a blanket ban.

If you have a restructured dog breed you’ll find yourself in several quagmires. But there is hope. There are services available that can help you navigate these restrictions and find pet transportation companies that will accept the restricted breeds.

When you get PCS orders, you may need to find temporary housing for your pet.

Fostering Resilient Transitions for All

There are many resources and programs you can access to get everything you need to have a smooth move. The process can be stressful, so if you know that this is part of the transition and it won’t be permanent, things get easier. Let’s take a look at some assistance programs, best practices, and other support resources.

Programs Helping Military/Pet Adoption Matches

If you’re yearning for a pet, there are programs that help you adopt a pet. 

  • Pets for Patriots, for example, connects veterans with rescue animals. 
  • These animals provide companionship and a purpose of life that many veterans need.
  • The best way to start is by researching on Google or going to military support services.

Best Practices for Rehoming Pets When Necessary

There are times that it’s not possible to take your pet with you. The only option you have is rehoming your pet. Rehoming is a sad reality and can be heartbreaking for your military family

  • It’s important to rehome your pet responsibly.
  • At the end of the day, the pet’s well-being is most important.
  • Carefully vet potentially new owners.
  • Communicate effectively with everyone involved in the rehoming process.

Support Resources for Grieving Pet Loss

If moving results in rehoming, it can be an extremely heartbreaking event for your family. The good news is that there are many places that offer services for grieving families — even on your base. Outside organizations like SPCA International’s Operation Military Pets also provide counseling.

Why Trust CitizenShipper with Your Furry Family Member?

Navigating the moving process with a pet can be stressful. Even searching for pet transportation can be a hard, time-consuming process. The good news is that two-way pet transportation marketplaces like CitizenShipper make the process so much smoother.

The Department of Defense recently announced a new policy to reimburse pet owners when they move after receiving PCS orders. The new law states:

“as of January 1, 2024, military Service members going through a PCS within the continental United States can be reimbursed up to $550 for one household pet, either cat or dog, and up to $2,000 for moves to or from a location outside the continental United States to cover costs related to the transportation of a pet.”

Using CitizenShipper is the best choice for military personnel that need to transport a pet during a PCS move. After your transport is complete, simply fill out this form in order to receive your reimbursement.

There are many benefits to using CitizenShipper for your military pet move — it’s easy to use, you’ll receive multiple quotes within minutes and there are a variety of options. CitizenShipper also offers unique benefits like 24/7 televet access and a $1,000 pet protection plan.

Posting a Listing on CitizenShipper’s Pet Transportation Marketplace is Easy

  • Click “Get Transportation Quotes” on CitizenShipper’s home page.
  • Select “Dogs” (or the options for other pets) from the list.
  • Enter all the detailed information of your transport.
  • In a matter of minutes, a fleet of screened drivers will send you a variety of quotes.
  • You can use the internal chat system to discuss the details of the transport with every driver that submits a quote.
  • You can read reviews from previous customers and check out drivers’ ratings.

The drivers on our pet transportation marketplace understand your pet means the world to you and your family. That’s why they’ll treat your furry baby with proper care throughout the entire journey. With a transporter hired through CitizenShipper taking care of your beloved pet, you can focus on other important PCS matters with your family. Make your PCS move a little easier and post a pet transportation listing to get free quotes instantly!

What About Military Moves Outside the Continental United States?

Most pet transportation companies in the United States only operate domestically. Unfortunately, with the size and reach of the United States military, many PCS orders involve a move overseas. If you need more information or a quote for military relocation outside of the US, contact our partners — Starwood Pet Travel — a veteran owned international pet transport company with decades of experience moving pets across the world.