Hope that this Year will be a happier one for you & yours!
Pups need help and a man from Connecticut dedicates his life to being there for man's best friends...especially our military working dogs - awesome stuff !!!
Volunteers in the News, Business
Dogs of War: Creature Comforts from Iraq, Afghanistan - locally-based Jet-a-Pet reunites strays in war-torn regions with soldiers back home.
By Chandra Niles Folsom - Westport, CT
Man's best friend in the war zone would often have to be left behind. Thanks to a Westport resident's organization, that is no longer the case.
It was 1987 when Westport's Town House for Dogs & Cats founder Mel Goldman changed direction in a career spent caring for animals.
With all the heartbreaking stories circulating about pet owners' experiences transporting their animals onboard commercial flights, Mel and his wife Sandra decided to launch their own critter airline of sorts dubbed Jet-a-Pet.
It would become the foundation for a venture the Goldmans embarked on with a not-for-profit organization to reunite American soldiers with the stray dogs they befriended while at war.
The former stable boy from Brooklyn discovered his calling during the summer of 1969 when he worked on a dude ranch out west. It was there that he met his future bride.
"Sandra asked me to go to a dog show with her where she'd entered her St. Bernard puppy—but she actually had an ulterior motive," recalled Goldman.
Because his new girlfriend wasn't confident that she could handle the pup in the ring, she sweet-talked Mel into helping out.
"I did and we won the blue ribbon." Mel said. "Soon, we became breeders of St. Bernards and moved up to Connecticut."
In 1972, Goldman received a license from the American Kennel Club(AKC) to handle dogs. However the honor was relatively short-lived because a later court ruling prohibited the AKC from issuing those licenses.
"Nevertheless, having had the license in the first place was an important milestone in the formation of my career," Goldman said.
The couple went on with the Goldmans raising two daughters. After the kids left the nest, the couple found themselves with some extra time on their hands to devote to new doggie ventures.
"That was when I had a brainstorm to start an animal freight forwarding business," explained Goldman.
He trademarked the name Jet-a-Pet and set up a website.
"The military was the main thrust of my efforts and as a result we made over 120 shipments of animals over the next few years," Goldman said.
The business also provides door-to-door delivery, relocating pets for corporate clients, and shipping show dogs throughout the world.
Then came the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Goldman started hearing news reports about military personnel adopting abandoned dogs while on active duty but unable to bring them home when they left. The dog lover knew that he was in the perfect position to help when the call came.
However it wasn't as easy as Goldman had imagined.
"It was a very involved process but I wanted to reunite soldiers with their loving animals and so we managed to find various ways," he said.
There are other non-profit organizations in our area that have done work for animals along the lines of sending care packages to military dogs overseas.
Organizations including Give2TheTroops.org and supportmilitaryworkingdogs.org have shipped items such as doggles (dog goggles) muttluks (dog boots), K9 bulletproof vests and other protective gear. Military dogs are subject to the same dangers as human soldiers yet are not first on the list to receive protective supplies from the U.S. government.
Another problem is access to veterinarians. Only a few are deployed with U.S. forces and they are thinly spread.
Military working dogs first entered the U.S. armed forces in March of 1942 to serve in the Army's K-9 Corps. By 2004, an estimated 2,300 military dogs were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the vast majority of them German and Dutch shepherds, Labradors and Belgian Malinois.
Bred for cooler climates, these dogs suffer through sandstorms and blistering heat that can reach 135F while performing duties that include base security, individual and crowd control, tracking insurgents and explosives detection.
And with the vast numbers of civilian casualties and displacement, many pets end up homeless in the war zones. Some soldiers even manage to find time to care for hungry dogs and cats, bringing them food and water.
Thanks to Jet-a-Pet many of them have found new homes in the States.
"We were determined to get those brave soldiers reunited with their pets at all costs and as a result of those successes felt a sense of accomplishment that far exceeded any remuneration we may have received from the business," said Goldman