Waggle is putting military members and veterans on its front line, and we need your help!

Our soldiers bravely fought for our country, and Waggle.org does not want them to have to fight a financial battle if their pet gets sick or hurt.

Every year, a half-million dogs and cats are put to sleep because their owners can't afford their pet's medical care. It's called economic euthanasia, and it's devastating for anyone to lose a pet. We are working to change that. And through a small monthly donation, you can help us save lives.

We want military members and veterans needing paying for their pet's medical bill to upload a campaign on Waggle.org.

Waggle offers pet owners, rescue groups, and shelters in need a policed, contemporary, and smart way to crowdfund an animal's medical bill. Every dollar raised goes straight to the veterinarian or hospital, eliminating any doubts about fake fundraising campaigns.

Uploading a campaign is free. Current and former service members could be eligible for a matching grant or sponsorship.

How to help The Waggle Foundation

The Waggle Foundation works with donors who wish to contribute a small monthly donation to pets in crisis. This creates a safety net for the pets who would otherwise face euthanasia. It goes directly to their medical bills, and it gives them a second chance at life with their family.

With a single keystroke, you can save lives. We’d love for you to get involved and be a hero for these military heroes. Click here to sign up.

Waggle knows how much pets mean to veterans and military families

We've heard from so many veterans who tell us their dog or cat helps them with their PTSD and comforts them on tough days. Study after study reveals the benefits animals can have on people's mental health.

But it doesn't stop there; pets can be an excellent benefit to active military members and their families, especially children. Veterinarian Martha Maud Smith-Blackmore knows first-hand. Her dog, Claude, helped provide stability and reassurance as she grew up and moved around the country while her father was in the Navy.

She authored a guest column for Waggle to share her experience.

Petty Officer Claude

- Dr. Martha Maud Smith-Blackmore, DVM

Growing up as a child with a parent or parents in the military isn’t easy. There are frequent moves. Each move which means a child has to make new friends, and start up at new schools every year or two. A parent may deploy for long periods of time, and they may deploy on dangerous missions. Even if a parent is not deployed to a dangerous place, it may feel like it to the child wondering where their parent is and what they are doing. As a “Navy brat” growing up, I was one of those kids and I turned out ok. I have a theory about a big reason for that: Claude.

As family lore has it, Claude was an offspring of a fire station Dalmatian and a police station German Shepherd. Our Dad brought him home one day when I was still a toddler. We were stationed in Dahlgren, Virginia. Shiny black with a white and dappled chest, and the world’s softest ears, Claude was there for us when we moved to Norfolk. And Groton. And Newport. And San Diego. He was the friend who got to move with us. He was there for us when we got home from school. He played catch, freeze tag, and kick-the-can until the street lights came on. He was a great ice breaker with other kids in the neighborhood. Most importantly, he was a great listener.

Claude was far from perfect. He would dig holes in the back yard, and sometimes he would break out of the back yard and go on the loose for days at a time. Fortunately, he always came home. When my Dad was frustrated with him, he would insist his name was Clod, not Claude. There were also endless discussions about whether there was really an “e” at the end of his name, and perhaps he was Claud. My middle name is Maud, not Maude, and I always felt shortchanged about that missing “e”. So I made sure when I spelled Claude, he got that “e”. The Smith family had a generous portion of French Canadian blood after all!

Claude captured after one of his famous escapes

Claude Smith was one of us, and he was resilient. He took each move in stride, and happily adjusted to each new home. He provided a great example for us on how to be – to trust that we would be safe, fed, loved and comfortable. He was a protector of the home, barking at passersby and unexpected visitors. Even if Dad was off at sea, Claude was holding down the fort. Surprisingly, very few pictures of Claude have survived through the years, but he is very prominent in my memories of childhood.

Approximately one million children have a parent in the active duty military, and another 675,000 have a parent in the active reserve, subject to deployment.1 In the scientific literature, these children are referred to as “military-connected youth.” Dr. Megan Mueller at the Center for Animals and Public Policy at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts has centered much of her research on resiliency in children.

She writes “Many military-connected youth experience multiple cycles of deployment marked by transitions involving parental deployment, separation, and reintegration. Youth in military families face unique challenges, such as higher than average rates of residential mobility that can impact youth social and emotional, anxiety and stress regarding family deployment, and difficulty maintaining healthy family relationships”. She also notes “many military-connected youth also exhibit resilience, thriving in the face of these challenges”2. Another researcher has written that in military children, “resilience is not a personal trait but a product of the relationships between children and the people and resources around them.”3

Among the resources that promote healthy children and families include relationships with extended family, in community groups and in neighborhoods. These are not resources that can travel with families, beyond the social media sphere. Pets however, as Dr. Mueller writes, are “an effective resource that may support thriving and resilience within the context of the family.”

Dr. Mueller has found an association between positive companion animal relationships and thriving in military-connected youth who are experiencing the stressor of having a deployed family member. She concludes that promoting positive relationships with animals within the military family setting will encourage wellbeing in military connected youth.

One way we can help support our military is to support their families. Pets of military families are incredibly valuable to military children. When these pets get injured (thank goodness Claude never got hit by a car on one of his jaunts, but it could have happened!) or sick, veterinary bills can force decisions that have negative impacts on families. (Waggle, waggle, waggle).

Dr. Martha Maud Smith-Blackmore is a veterinarian in the Boston area who grew up as a military connected youth. She works for the City of Boston Division of Animal Care and Control, teaches at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and is President of a private veterinary forensics consulting business, Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC. Claude inspired the author to change her original idea of becoming a pediatrician, to becoming a veterinarian.

Footnotes:

  1. 2018 Demographics Report: Profile of the Military Community, Department of Defense. https://download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Reports/2018-demographics-report.pdf
  2. Megan Kiely Mueller & Kristina Schmid Callina (2014) Human–Animal Interaction as a Context for Thriving and Coping in Military-Connected Youth: The Role of Pets During Deployment, Applied Developmental Science, 18:4, 214-223, DOI: 10.1080/10888691.2014.955612
  3. Easterbrooks, M. A., Ginsburg, K., & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Resilience among military youth. Future of Children: Military Children and Families, 23(2), 99–120.