Update the JTR to support pet costs for military travel!

Update the JTR to support pet costs for military travel!

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John Doe started this petition to Department of Defense and

I am writing this petition as an active duty service member stationed outside the continental United States. I am requesting everyone’s support for enacting a change to 37 U.S.C. 476, Travel and transportation allowances: dependents; baggage and household effects.

Currently under 37 U.S.C. 476, military members are only authorized reimbursement of cost of quarantining pets in connection with a permanent change of station or if evacuating a location overseas. After reading the Joint Travel Regulations section 054103, I learned that civilian military employees are authorized reimbursement for transportation of pets whereas active duty personnel are not. Service members are required to pay out of pocket for the transportation of our pets to our new station.

Service members are required to travel overseas via aircraft contracted through Air Mobility Command (AMC). There are only a few pet spots on the plane. If you are unable to acquire a spot, you must procure your own plane tickets and pay for them yourself without reimbursement if you want your pets to fly with you. It cost my family $3,000 to bring my 3 dogs from Joint Base San Antonio Lackland to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. We have talked to other members who have paid over $10,000 to travel with their dogs. This high cost of shipping pets causes an undue burden to military members and their families during a time when stress is already highly elevated from moving. Many people consider pets part of the family and this results in service members being put in a tough spot where they must decide to spend thousands of dollars to bring them with or rehome the pets. If members are unable to pay this cost, they leave their pets with someone else, take out a loan, or take them to the local pet shelter. I worry that some of these pets will eventually be abandoned and become strays.

Ramón Colón-López, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has acknowledged this high cost of transporting pets in May 2020. He suggested they would look into and try to find a way to compensate the service members or come up with a mechanism to be able to take care of them. In October Rick Marsh, the Deputy Director of Strategic Plans, Policy and Logistics at U.S. Transportation Command was asked about any help coming to service members. He stated he didn’t want to speculate on it. There has been zero indication of anything changing to help out service members.

I am urging Congress to introduce a change to 37 U.S.C. 476 to allow for service members to be reimbursed for the expenses of moving pets in conjunction with a permanent change of station. Thank you for your time and support in this crucial matter for our men and women in the armed forces.

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