Fort Meade center puts pet owners at ease

If you start watching those service member and dog reunion videos on YouTube, it's hard to stop.

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We're drawn in not just by the sacrifice of why the owner left, but the pure human emotion displayed by what is technically just an animal.

It's the reaction the phrase "man's best friend" describes, convincing us these canines are truly capable of complex emotion.

Traci Dixon doesn't need YouTube.

Her husband is active duty army in Kuwait, currently on a year-long deployment.

He's only been home once, but their dog Ty won't ever forget it.

"I was like Ty, daddy's home. And he stopped and he looked at him first and after that... it was like all over," Dixon said.

It is a reaction you'd expect to see quite often in the communities around and even on the base of Fort Meade.

Tucked away in the corner of the military base is a shelter called the Fort Meade Family Pet Care Center – a boarding facility for the dogs and cats of military families while their owners are abroad for up to six month deployments or more.

Kimberly Taylor runs the Fort Meade Family Pet Care Center.

"With all the stresses that go on with deployment, we try to make one thing a little easier... one less thing to worry about," Taylor said.

.The facility was built to meet a unique need.

While many service members had family to care for their dogs and cats, it became clear some had no other option until this center came along.

Fort Meade says it is the very first facility of its kind on any army installation in the U.S.

"It puts their mind at ease that a lot of our employees have ties to the military and they're a lot more understanding than say a civilian kennel would be," Taylor said.

The facility was built back in 2002 in part to meet the need of many soldiers who were being deployed and needed a place to board their dogs. 

That need has increased over the years and now the facility on Fort Meade is being used as a blue print for bases around the country.

In the past, the army says officials from Fort Bragg toured the facility to replicate the service for its soldiers; a popular solution to a need for the men and women asked to sacrifice so much.

Ty is a frequent resident at the Fort Meade Family Pet Care Center both short and long term, a service that makes all the difference for his military family.

"Definitely," Dixon said "Knowing that your dog is being taken care of and being fed and walked and played with and nurtured... all of that... definitely."  

At ease, knowing that while they are off defending this country, someone is at home defending their best friend.



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