The Foster-Mascot Program is a program developed and initiated by Homeward Bound Animal Shelter, Osan. The program started in early January 2021.
Homeward Bound created this program to place certain shelter animals into a group, squadron, or unit to make them their mascot. This program specifically focuses on animals who are considered “not easily adoptable” because of their breed, age, or any other aspect that makes it difficult for them to leave the Korean peninsula.
As an animal shelter on a military installation, it is our purpose to find homes for dogs and cats that are able to leave the country with their new owner upon departure to the next duty assignment. Unfortunately, not every dog and cat can leave the Korean peninsula easily. Therefore, Homeward Bound created the Foster-Mascot Program, to find a special place for these special pets! This rather unique program benefits not only our shelter animals, it also benefits our military members. By placing a shelter animal into the work place, it enables the animal to stay in a home-like environment where it receives love and care. But more importantly, it also helps our military community in general. Animals at the workplace have potential to improve morale, promote productivity, create a comfortable work environment, camaraderie, and promotes open communication between personnel. Furthermore, animal companions can lower stress levels and improve the mental wellbeing of our military personnel.
The goal of this program is to place a shelter animal into a work environment that represents the group, squadron, or unit as their mascot, with the intention of finding a suitable adopter from within the unit or its associations.
Which animal is deemed not easily adoptable?
• Brachycephalic cat and dog breeds (also known as snub-nosed breeds): since more and more airlines decline transportation for these type of cats and dogs, owners are either forced to leave their pets behind, or pay a pet transportation company to ship them when they cannot get a spot on a military flight. Although these breeds are quite popular, we must ensure that whomever adopts a snub-nosed breed is financially able and willing to pay the high cost of shipping these animals home.
• Dogs considered a dangerous breed: our view is that there is no such thing as a dangerous breed. Unfortunately, many countries condemn certain dog breeds rather than irresponsible owners. Therefore, it is our duty to only adopt these dogs to people who are willing and able to either ship the dog to a responsible agent stateside (when the next duty station is in a location where the breed is allowed), fly with them as pet cargo on a military flight, or pay a shipping company for transportation to the US.
• Dogs and Cats of old age: in cases where the animal would not likely survive a flight off the peninsula due to their age or for other health reasons, the foster-mascot program is also available as a forever home or hospice. The group, squadron, or unit is therefore able to provide a home for the animal until her or she either dies of old age, or needs euthanasia due to health reasons. In case of the later, medical costs are covered by Homeward Bound Osan.
• Giant dog breeds: Giant dog breeds like Great Danes or Mastiffs are great companions, but are quite expensive to ship overseas. When buying a giant dog breed puppy, some owners underestimate the costs and relinquish the dog to a shelter. In this case, it is quite difficult for our shelter to find suitable adoption, but we will do everything we can to find a forever home for large dog breeds relinquished to Homeward Bound.
Who can foster a mascot?
• Any group, squadron, or unit can apply to foster a mascot from Homeward Bound Osan
Where would the animal live?
• The animal would live in a designated area at the group, squadron, unit, or with designated airmen from the facility.
• Homeward Bound will provide a crate, bed, blankets, water, food bowls, and toys
Do we have to pay medical bills?
• No. The dog or cat will be fully vaccinated, neutered/spayed, dewormed, chipped, and on heartworm preventative medication upon arrival as a mascot.
• The shelter will stay in contact with the group, squadron, or unit for future veterinarian appointments regarding vaccinations and annual heartworm tests.
• The shelter covers the costs of medical treatments when provided from our on-base veterinarian facility. However, we won’t cover treatments that resulted from irresponsible behavior from the handler.
What happens during an exercise or deployment?
• In case of an exercise, or the rare situation that an entire unit deploys, Homeward Bound would care for the animal until the unit is back or the exercise is over.
Can we give the Mascot back?
• Yes, you can. While we hope that the mascot can stay even through changes of command, the mascot can always be given back to the shelter.
Who can we contact to get a mascot?
• Please contact our Shelter Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information about the program and how to get a mascot from Homeward Bound.