Jun 12, 2010 9:42 AM by Matt Stafford
Ava is an American Bulldog; her owner is a soldier serving in Iraq. She's waiting for him to return, along with the Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers in Colorado Springs.
Her owner has Ava in a program while he's deployed, through the obedience school, where Ava is put into a foster home. They have a network of screened homes ready to take in a furry companion. It's a program the obedience school began about a year ago as a way to give back to the soldiers in the community. For $615, the dog will be taken care of in a home, fed and given medical attention.
"That includes all their fostering, medical, insurance; we train them and then foster them out," says Scott Martin, owner of Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers.
Most importantly he adds that price doesn't change, no matter how long the deployment lasts or if it changes in the process. Ava will wait there on her owner to return, but in the mean time get some added benefit out of her stay.
At Rocky Mountain Dog Trainers, courses can cost around a thousand dollars for behavior training. Pets of soldiers being watched under the program not only get the program once, but a refresher course before the owner returns home.
However, for most in the program, the best part is the discount for deployed soldiers.
"It's half of what a regular training program would be, yet it covers the entire length of the deployment," explains April Hand, an employee at the obedience school. She says a regular training program normally costs between $950 and $1,250.
This program isn't a new concept. There are some similar national programs, but the employees say you likely won't find other programs locally-based.
As for other forms of shelter, that can get expensive. The school's instructors say boarding alone can cost $25 to $35 a day at many shelters. Over a yearlong deployment, that can add up quickly.
"We've heard as far as up to 8,000 dollars," says Martin.
They say the money they take doesn't cover the costs that they incur taking care of the animal, but so far they've been absorbing the costs for the soldiers.
Employees are working on setting up a non-profit the help handle the finances of the program down the road.
If you want more information about the program, click here.