U.S. troops stationed all over the world befriend local animals as a way to help cope with the emotional hardships they endure every day while deployed far away from home. But our service members put themselves at risk by caring for local animals because feeding and befriending them is against Military General Order 1-A. Often called military mascots or patriot pets, the mental health benefits these beloved animals give our troops is undeniable. Many commanding officers look the other way and allow these rules to be bent, but others turn the animals out, sentencing them to sure death and inflicting incalculable mental harm on the military service members who had bonded with them. Can you imagine finding a helpless puppy or kitten only days old, stranded and crying for food and help? Would you take that animal in and protect it - no matter the cost? How would you feel if that animal was ripped from your arms and turned out or shot dead in front of you? It may sound harsh, but it is a reality some of our troops have to live with because of General Order 1-A.
SPCA International has firsthand experience with the benefits these befriended animals provide to our troops in the field. These important animals not only help our heroes cope while stationed outside the U.S., but they also help them readjust to life back home. During the Iraq War, SPCA International started a program called "Operation Baghdad Pups" which continues to help reunite beloved pets with their service men and women back in the U.S. SPCA International has heard firsthand about dogs turned out on the streets or brutally killed in an effort to enforce General Order 1-A. There must be a better way. As our Veterans Administration struggles to handle the overwhelming number of veterans in need of medical treatment for both physical and mental illness, why not seek help from the animals living near U.S. military stations around the world? Tell the Department of Defense to let our troops befriend local animals and keep their military mascots safe from harm. Sign now!