Pet Chit Success & Reunions, With a Little Help from Our Friends

Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program Keeps Families Together

When Bella, the Siberian Husky and Emotional Support Animal (ESA) arrived in Germany in August, it made for a very happy reunion with her family, Nicole and Jillian Messina.

Bella means “beautiful” in Italian and Spanish. Clearly that describes this dog perfectly!


Nicole Messina, E-5, United States Air Force recently received PCS orders for Germany, where she is likely to serve for the next three years. She was told that space was unavailable for the family dog, Bella on the military rotator heading to Ramstein AFB. This news meant that arrangements would have to be made for Bella to travel to Germany unaccompanied via a commercial flight and pet shipping company, at a cost of about $1600. Nicole told Dogs on Deployment, “Since I was the only one working in my home, that amount was quite an expense and stretch for me to make, especially on such short notice. We were at the point where we knew Bella had to join us, and realized that any amount of assistance toward that goal would help immensely.”

Recognizing that this cost was a hardship for her and her wife, Jillian, Nicole applied to the Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program run by Dogs on Deployment. Dogs on Deployment understands that pets do a great deal to enhance and complete our lives in numerous ways. Our initiatives aim to promote responsible, lifelong pet ownership within the military-pet community. Dogs on Deployment’s military-pet foster network reunites as many military families with their pets as possible, and our Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program helps with the associated financial costs.


Bella rests with her family in their new home, after a long trip from the U.S. to Germany.


Nicole was granted a pet chit from Dogs on Deployment for $500 to assist with the dog’s overseas travel expenses. “We appreciate receiving the grant. It made moving to Germany a lot easier!” said Nicole.

Bella Brings Beauty & Blessings

Bella was dropped off for transport at Pender Air in Chantilly, VA where she flew out the next day. She arrived safely in Frankfurt, Germany on August 23, with plenty of jet lag and a little anxiety, but has since settled in nicely.


Bella looks forward to stretching her legs and seeing her family as she leaves the airport.


The beautiful, three-year-old Siberian Husky serves an important role as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) to Jillian, who has had Bella since she was just a puppy. As an ESA, the dog is recognized for her levels of companionship and affection. Nicole says, Bella “significantly improves my wife’s quality of life. The dog helps get her through especially hard days with lots of cuddles and kisses.”

The family has been so busy with the move and getting acclimated to life in Germany that Bella’s presence and personality have made a huge difference. Nicole told us that “Bella can be a little sassy sometimes but that’s what makes her amazing. She is the sweetest dog and has the cutest smile. Bella also thinks she is about the size of a teacup Chihuahua, and it’s funny watching her try to fit into places that we know she absolutely can’t!”

The Messina family adds that “after moving into our house, Bella was a little terrified of its curvy staircase. We had to carry her up the steps the first few times, but now she ascends and descends like a champ. We also have a decent sized yard and Bella just loves walking around freely out there.”


Bella the Siberian Husky enjoys the great outdoors. Maybe she is wondering, “How do you say ‘fire hydrant’ in German?”


On a final note, Nicole told us that in the future they “will definitely recommend Dogs on Deployment to others who may need similar help. Having financial assistance for Bella’s travel costs was just incredible, and we are forever grateful to Dogs on Deployment and its sponsors!”


This local success story is brought to you by SAW Contracting, Inc., a proud supporter of Dogs on Deployment’s Hampton Roads Chapter. SAW Contracting is a commercial construction company that provides services for preconstruction, general contracting, and construction management. SAW Contracting is classified as an 8(a) Certified, Small and Minority owned (SWaM) business, and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business (SDVOB) based out of the Virginia Beach, VA and higher Hampton Roads area.


SAW Contracting, Inc. believes in “quality through collaboration.” They specialize in renovations and new construction of office buildings, medical facilities, retail buildings, lodging, schools, recreational facilities, and warehouses. Visit them online at



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