Preparation the key to PCS’ing with a pet - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

Preparation the key to PCS’ing with a pet

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Posted: Friday, May 10, 2019 2:52 pm

The period between May 15 and August 31 is considered the annual peak time for a permanent change of station (PCS) in the military. More than 65 percent of moves that occur annually occur during that space of time. Along with taking the time to handle the pack out process, secure transport for personal property and make sure that family is accounted for, Marines and sailors preparing to PCS should also ensure that their pets are ready to be taken care of.

Jennifer Monteforte, community outreach coordinator at Onslow County Animal Shelter (OCAS), knows that planning is important when it comes to PCS’ing with a pet. Her husband was active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years.

“We’ve PCS’d with dogs, cats, fish and turtles,” said Monteforte. “It’s doable. People just wait until the last minute.” 

Monteforte acknowledges that PCS season has an impact on animal forfeitures.

“While we do see increased surrenders during the winter recess and summer break periods when many military families are relocating, it is something that occurs all throughout the year.”

That’s why Monteforte insists that those about to make a move look ahead rather than wait.

“For most military families, multiple moves are a way of life,” Monteforte said. “With that in mind, thinking ahead, even before orders are received, about potential breed or housing restrictions, the costs of moving a pet, especially when traveling overseas or to Hawaii, and simply understanding the commitment involved in owning a pet can all help families to avoid the stress and heartache of leaving their pet behind when orders arrive.”

Knowing what to expect PCS’ing into or out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is also essential. Monteforte pointed out some of the most important things pet owners should keep in mind during their move. She also made mention of military veterinary installations.

“Once orders are received, owners should immediately contact their military veterinary installation for necessary information, and their new duty station for any special requirements,” Monteforte said. “Owners should ensure their pets are up-to-date on vaccinations and have their vet records on hand while traveling. Microchips/ID tag contact information should be verified and updated in the case the pet becomes separated during the move.”

As for travel, Monteforte was adamant on the importance of preparing for pet friendly accomodations.

“All travel accommodations should include pets,” Monteforte said. “There are several hotel chains that welcome pets, such as La Quinta and Best Western. Always reserve ahead of time and check with hotels for restrictions or fees that may be charged so that you are prepared for any additional costs. Packing for traveling pets is just as important as packing for humans. Prepare a travel crate and all needed pet items to ensure for an easier trip.”

The prospect of PCS’ing overseas means further steps should be taken.

“Traveling overseas requires additional proof of vaccinations, health certificate and possible quarantine periods,” Monteforte said. “This can be time consuming and costly. It is important to not delay in preparing for your pet’s journey, especially when travelling overseas.”

To help with the daunting process of having your pet with you during a PCS, resources on MCB Camp Lejeune are also at the ready. The most important place to notify about your pet is the same place every Marine or Sailor needs to visit prior to a PCS or deployment – the Distribution Management Office (DMO). Sgt. Miguel Flores, DMO Passenger Travel NCOIC, provided insight on how the offices can help with a pet.

“The biggest step (for service members) is to come to DMO so Patriot Express can book space for a pet,” said Flores. “We need the web orders as well as information on the pet such as its kennel size, the animal’s breed and weight of the pet.”

The DMO handles all aspects of the flight booking, provided they have the information to do so. Flores recommended that Marines or Sailors look into third party commercial flights for extenuating circumstances. However, that’s a rare occurrence.

“As soon as web orders hit (service members) can come in and we’ll reserve something,” Flores said. “Families feel more secure when they reserve something. If the orders change, we can change reservation.”

Because of that, service members are urged to start making plans and head to the DMO as soon as orders come in.

“We understand that many families consider their pets as members of the family,” Flores said.

In the event that pets cannot be accommodated due to where a Marine or Sailor is moving to, Monteforte had further advice.

“Those unable to PCS with their pet may be able to reach out to trusted friends and family to care for their animal,” Monteforte said. “Surrendering a pet to a shelter should be the last resort. Many shelters (such as Onslow County Animal Services) cannot take surrendered animals on a walk-in basis and have a wait list that can be several weeks. Understand that leaving your pet behind has consequences. While we do our best to place animals into adoptive homes, the shelter environment can be difficult and stressful.”

Monteforte made note that, while long-term foster care is not readily available locally, there are options that help with short term PCS or deployments.

“There are several national organizations such as Dogs on Deployment that may be able to help deploying military to secure short-term foster care for their pets,” Monteforte said.

PCS’ing is an unavoidable aspect of military life. The process can be stressful for all members of the family, pets included. By taking the time to plan ahead, service members can be responsible pet owners who do what’s right – keep pets out of shelters and in loving environments where they can flourish.

For more information on the Distribution Management Office visit

For more information about Dogs on Deployment visit

To learn more about the Onslow County Animal Shelter visit

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