When Alisa Johnson and her husband, Shawn, were both due to begin military service in June 2011, they found themselves in a dreadful situation: they had no one to take care of their beloved dog, JD, while they were gone. After finally finding a distant relative who agreed to house their pet, the couple realized how many dual-military families face the same problem.
From this, Dogs On Deployment was born. It's a social network enabling military service members to find a responsible and loving host to care for their pets while they're serving the country. Thanks to the volunteers who foster the animals, military members can sleep a little more soundly knowing their pets are safe back home, Johnson told HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd on Tuesday.
"It can be stressful if you don't have anyone to care for your pet when you have an upcoming service commitment," Johnson said. "So to be able to assist them and give them that peace of mind is really heartwarming."
Dogs On Deployment is not exclusive to dogs, Johnson said. The group has helped nearly 800 pets since 2011, including cats, birds, ferrets, turtles and even a snake named Pedro.
Retired Air Force Maj. Kevin J. Cook is one of the service members who has benefited from Johnson's organization. He described to HuffPost Live the pure joy of reuniting with his pets after he returned home.
"Getting them back is always fun, but taking them home that night and having the first night back at home with them, that's what it's all about," said Cook. "Having your dogs back happy and healthy. It's just a wonderful feeling."
Learn more about Dogs on Deployment in the video above, and click here to watch the latest episode of HuffPost Live's Pet Show.
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