Deployments are part of military life; just ask Kery and her husband Lee. It's just part of standard procedure for this Navy family. Lee was not worried about leaving the beloved family dog, Mija, a nine-year-old shepherd mix behind, because his wife, Kery, was going to be there to take care of her.
Then, life got complicated, as life often does, when deployments occur. With a brand new baby, and some health problems, Kery had to go stay with her parents for the duration of Lee's deployment. Unfortunately, Kery's parents couldn't take in Mija.
Thankfully, Donna Magee had seen Dogs on Deployment do a televised reunion, and as a volunteer foster for her humane society, she saw an opportunity to get involved with DoD at the local level. On the website, Donna saw Kery and Lee's post looking for a boarder, and it was a perfect match.
With two other small dogs already ruling the roost, Mija fit right into Donna's dog-loving home. And, Mija's special needs were perfectly met: "I'm blessed that I'm allowed to bring her to my office with me. When my daughter is in school, Mija comes to work with me, so as not to be left alone," Donna says of Mija's separation anxiety.
Still, Donna's aid to Kery and Lee didn't stop with giving Mija a safe place to stay during his deployment. Donna noticed that Mija didn't seem to be feeling well, and took her to the vet.
"Mija was boarded over the 4th of July weekend," Donna explains of noticing Mija's condition. "When we brought her home, she was not eating well, becoming irritable, sleeping a lot, and not wanting to be touched." In a short span of time, Mija had lost over ten pounds, and had pronounced lumps in her neck.
At the vet, Mija was diagnosed with Stage IV-V Lymphoma, meaning that she had cancer present in all her lymph nodes. Additionally, she had an enlarged spleen and kidneys.
Mija's chemotherapy treatments are projected to cost upwards of $5,000, a cost that Kery and Lee are unable to afford. Lee recently lost his mother, and the thought of losing his beloved dog, while still deployed, was too difficult to imagine.
"My husband's heart was heavy, as he could not bear another loss of someone so precious to him, especially in such a short period of time — and while he was still deployed," Kery says of her husband.
When Dogs on Deployment heard of this, through Donna, fundraising began without hesitation, on Mija's behalf. A $1,500 donation was made, almost immediately.
"I burst into tears when I heard the news!" Kery exclaimed, upon hearing that the cost of treatment was already being defrayed. "And, you are continuing to fundraise on her behalf!"
Donna adds that friends have helped by purchasing chicken and rice to supplement Mija's diet when she is feeling too ill to eat her regular food. "She's put on a few pounds, but she's still a little too thin," she says.
While helping military families, and their pets is part of everyday life for Dogs on Deployment, Kery says, "Words cannot express the sincere gratitude our family has for the help your organization has given to our family, and to Mija. We truly appreciate this more than anything. A million 'thank you's' would never be enough! The work that you do is so commendable, amazing, and so selfless. Your organization has touched our lives in a way that we could never repay! Thank you for your kindness and what you do for us and for our fellow military families and their dogs."
Thanks to the generous support from donations, Mija is on her way to recovery. If you are interested in continuing to support Mija, please visit the Donations Section of our website, and select "Save Mija" from the pull down menu.
Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports
LADSON, SC (WCSC) -Â Many military men and women are often forced to give away their pets when they deploy. However, there's a program helping to make sure that doesn't happen.
After half a year serving overseas, U.S. Air Force First Sergeant Tiffany Robinson is home safe and reunited with her two dogs.
"I thought they were gonna forget me, but they didn't," said Robinson
Six months ago, Robinson found out she was being deployed to Africa.
"You took the oath to serve, protect and defend the country," said Robinson. "So, you have to deploy. There's no other option."
Robinson said she was excited to go, but had one big concern.
"I was just kinda at my wits end and I was like 'I don't know what I'm going to do with my dogs, I want someone who can care for them, who can love them'," said Robinson.
A friend told Robinson about Dogs on Deployment, a national non profit organization that connects service members with families who are willing to care for pets while their owners are deployed.
"It's so important just because no military member wants to have to give up their pets to do their job," said Darrah, Dogs on Deployment volunteer.
Through the program, Robinson was connected with Darrah, a military wife living in Ladson. Darrah said she knows first hand about the stresses that come with deployment.
"I know how hard it is," said Darrah. "For me, this was an easy, simple thing to do to help out."
At no cost to Robinson, Darrah and her family took in Rocco and Rogue while she was away. Darrah said they receive no money from the program. They pay for food and care while hosting the pets.
"Its all kindness of the heart," said Darrah.
That kindness is something that Robinson is overcome with gratitude for. Robinson said coming home from deployment is an adjustment and it's much easier to do with her two dogs that she lovingly calls her "kids."
"It's priceless, there are no words," said Robinson. "They're like my family here, since I don't have any family in Charleston."
Both families said the hardest part of the reunion was having to separate Rocco and Rogue from Darrah's dogs. They've all gotten very attached to each other. But Robinson said she'll be back to visit soon.
Dogs on Deployment was founded in 2011 and so far nearly 500 pets have been taken care through the program.
You can find more information about dogs on deployment on their website.
Copyright WCSC 2014. All rights reserved.
By GENE PATTERSON, 6 News Anchor/Reporter (ABC Wate)
KODAK (WATE) – We often think of military families who are separated from their loved ones when they deploy.
It turns out – there is a group out there that can help.
Air Force Major Kevin Cook was helped by the non-profit known as "Dogs on Deployment."
It was a special night on Tuesday at the Tennessee Smokies Stadium for Major Cook, the Asheville, North Carolina native who was reunited with his pets, Ruby and Indigo after a 5 month absence.
The dogs have been cared for during the Major's overseas deployment by Katie Brown. She made sure Major Cook kept in touch with his dogs.
"We were able to send him photos, Facebook him and also send him some videos," said Katie Brown, Knoxville Coordinator for Dogs on Deployment.
Dogs on Deployment is a national non-profit that uses volunteers to care for the pets of military men and women who have commitments elsewhere in the world.
"If you're one who wants to help your troops and love your dogs we actually bring that together. You can help board those pets for your troops," said Brown.
Dogs on Deployment was founded in 2011 by pet owners Alisa and Shawn Johnson, who realized the need for foster care when both were deployed. To date more than 450 dogs have found temporary homes through Dogs on Deployment.
Major Cook said the group was exactly what he needed.
"There's just not a lot of support network for dogs in the military," said Major Cook.
Through Dogs on Deployment, Cook had one less thing to worry about during his overseas stay. And the occasional message and photos he says broke the boredom.
"It's a great program I can't say enough about them. There for a long time that service wasn't there, and I couldn't believe it when I looked online and there was something out there for this. It's a wonderful program and hope it continues to grow and will do what I can to support it," said Major Cook.
Dogs chew. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows this simple fact of canine nature; and, if youâ€™re lucky, you ended up with a dog that knows to only chew toys. Still, when dogs behave, and only chew their toys, sometimes something goes wrong. Strings, and seemingly innocent bits of fluff and fabric can make their way into your dogâ€™s gut. Most of the time, they pass, unnoticed, until they are found decorating the yard. Sometimes though, these bits of string can loop themselves in knots around your dogâ€™s stomach and intestines, causing life-threatening blockages.
It was just this type of scary situation that sent Giacomo and Rhiannon rushing to the emergency vet with their dog, a year and a half year old Lab named Devil. Heâ€™d stopped eating and drinking for several days, and was persistently vomiting, all sure signs of an intestinal blockage. The images were unclear, but the vet felt sure that it was probably a string. The vet recommended operating immediately, and the concerned pet parents thought that it seemed a logical course of action, as a tiny string, almost impossible to see on an X-ray made perfect sense for Devil, a dog prone to tear apart his stuffed toys. Without hesitating, they paid the mandatory, up-front, expensive surgery fee.
"Devil is basically our child. We bothÂ love him so much that we would do anything for him,â€ Rhiannon says, about agreeing to the costly operation. â€œWhen he had to have emergency surgery, we had no choice but to say yes because itâ€™s what the vet said would help him and we just wanted him better."
Unfortunately, it didnâ€™t help Devil. After the $3600 surgery, which maxed out their credit cards, Devil was miserable, in more pain than before, and very dehydrated. Worst of all, the surgeon didnâ€™t find a string; the vet concluded that whatever was upsetting Devilâ€™s stomach must have simply passed on its own
Maxing out their cards was a financial burden to the couple, and they were only able to make the $75 minimum payment each month, which barely made a dent in the amount they owed. When it seemed like theyâ€™d never be able to recover their finances, a friend suggested they contact Dogs on Deployment and request assistance through the Pet Chit program.
The Dogs on Deployment Pet Chit program provides financial assistance to military members E-6, and below. It can be used to assist in basic veterinary care, including spay and neuter surgeries, pre-deployment health-care, travel and PCS related expenses, emergency care, and more. Giacomo and Rhiannon applied for a Pet Chit and contacted Alisa Johnson, president of Dogs on Deployment, who, through fundraising, Â raised $1300, applied directly to their vet bill.
â€œDogs on Deployment took a huge weight off of our shoulders helping to pay some of the bill,â€ Rhiannon says of the contribution, â€œIâ€™m forever grateful to them for caring as much about Devil as we do.â€
Alisa Johnson, president of Dogs on Deployment, adds â€œwe are so happy to be able to help Rhiannon and Giacomo."
Now, Devil is back to his healthy, happy self.
Rhiannon says, â€œI would have done it all again because our dog is seriously our baby,â€ but â€œI wish we had known about what you guys do beforeâ€¦from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for this helpâ€¦Between getting donations for owners and finding temporary fosters, what you guys do is amazing. Thank you so much.â€