NEWPORT NEWS — A matchmaking service designed to find homes for the pets of deployed military members was recognized by the governor’s office.
Dogs on Deployment, based in Newport News, won the 2018 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award.
The Hampton Roads chapter of Dogs on Deployment assists military members and veterans in finding free temporary homes for their pets during times of deployment, hospitalization, training, homelessness, and other circumstances, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award recognizes organizations and individuals, who contributed to the life and welfare of the Commonwealth and its citizens.
“I am pleased to recognize this year’s Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award recipients, who serve as wonderful examples of how we can all positively impact our communities,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in the news release. “Their selfless acts have made a difference in so many lives across Virginia.”
Dogs on Deployment Hampton Roads chapter was honored by the recognition.
“We’re so blessed with a great group of volunteers. We have over 200 volunteers that do everything from community events to public speaking engagements,” said Myra Smith, coordinator of the Hampton Roads Chapter. “We’ve grown from not having a chapter to being the largest chapter in the country and raising the most money. We’re really pleased and honored.”
Nationally, the organization was founded in June 2011.
Dogs on Deployment is an online service for military members, who are looking for volunteers to take care of their pet during their deployment.
“We try and match people to where this is a need,” Smith said.
She said usually the organization likes to keep the pet within a 50-mile radius of their owner’s home but there have been circumstances where a military member has opted for a farther location.
Smith encourages that the military member, the pet and volunteer meet twice: once in a private location and once in public to make sure all parties are comfortable.
In the state, Dogs on Deployment has 3,579 registered volunteers and there are 35,377 in the country, Smith said.
Last year, the organization raised $45,000. Smith said the money goes to pet financial assistance, pet medical care, transportation of the pets, quarantine costs for military members, website maintenance and supplies.