San Diego Military Pet Adoption

San Diego Military Pet Adoption

Military Pet Adoption

Discounted Pet Adoption for San Diego Military Families

Military Pet Adoption Golden Retriever

For many military families, moving is a way of life. When those PCS orders come in, they pack up their possessions, say “see you later” to their friends and jet away to their next duty station. Relocating with pets can be a little bit of a challenge, especially if that move is overseas (or OCONUS.) But Helen Woodward Animal Center believes that not only can pets fit into military life, they can make the lifestyle even better. Moving can mean new houses, jobs, schools, friends and sometimes even cultures.  A pet might be the only constant in a service member’s life. Your furry recruit can make the transition from one place to another less stressful and less lonely.

We know military pet ownership can be confusing, but if you’re armed with information, it can be smooth sailing. Here are some questions you might have to answer if you have a pet or are thinking about adding one to your ranks.

“Can pets live in military housing?”

Kitten in Boonie HatFor the most part, yes! Lincoln Military Housing – which operates military housing here in San Diego, including on Camp Pendleton – has a two-pet maximum for most of its properties. (There are a couple communities that allow only one pet and several that don’t permit any.) You can find the pet status of each local military community by clicking the links below:

San Diego Military Housing

Miramar Military Housing

Camp Pendleton Housing

You’ll have to register your pet with the housing office. Some communities have different weight limits for pets. (For specifics, contact Lincoln Military Housing directly.)

LT Kodiak

“Can I take my pet with me if I get stationed overseas?”

Yes, but you have to do your research. If you’re moving to a rabies-free location, such as Hawaii or Guam, your pets will have to be quarantined. (That sounds a little daunting, we know.) Time isn’t always an option when making a military move, but it’s your best chance for a short quarantine.

For example, say you’re moving to Hawaii. Your first step is to get a blood sample and make sure it arrives in Hawaii four months (120 days) before your arrival. (You can do this and get any required documentation at the vet clinic on MCAS Miramar.) Your pet has to have had at least two rabies vaccines in his or her lifetime, with the most recent at least three months (90 days) before your move. That way, your pet will be quarantined for five days or less. Otherwise, your pet will have to complete the full 120-day quarantine.

Unfortunately, we can’t cover every overseas military installation’s pet policies. But here are the key takeaways:

*Start planning your pet’s military move as soon as possible. (For instance, if moving to Japan, you can avoid the quarantine process altogether if you start preparing 7 months in advance.)

*Keep your pets up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. (This is an important reminder since dogs are required by California law to get the rabies vaccine, but cats are not.)

When your tour is over and it’s time to bring Buddy home, he will be treated like any animal coming into the U.S. for the first time. Besides proof of rabies vaccine, a veterinarian will have to confirm your dog doesn’t have screwworm if you’re coming from a country that has screwworm, such as Singapore. (But that’s a whole other can of worms.) For the CDC’s guidelines for bringing pets into the country, click here.

“What happens to my pet when I go on deployment?”

Stars and Stripes TerrierIf you need to find a temporary home for your pet, a family member or friend should be your first line of defense. If you don’t have any options, you may be able to place your pet with a foster family while you’re away. San Diego-based nonprofit Dogs on Deployment has a network of volunteers willing to board your pet for a few months while you’re overseas. (They accept cats, birds and other small pets, too.)

Just like moving with a pet, it’s important to start looking for a foster family early. You’ll want to create a Dogs on Deployment account and list your pet as soon as you roughly know your deployment dates. Then, you’ll want to arrange a meet and greet with potential fosters, choose one who’s a good match for your pet and update your pet’s vaccinations.

“Will shelters adopt a pet to me if I’m in the military?”

Yes. Helen Woodward Animal Center believes service members can be some of the most dedicated pet parents.


Here’s the bottom line: When you adopt a pet, you take an oath to care for that creature for life. Owning a pet may take a little extra legwork if you’re in the military, but the unconditional love you get in return makes it all worthwhile. Military pet owners, we salute you!

Sally Boonie Hat


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