Deployed Pet Owners Saved By Guardian Angels

Duane Prokop/Las Vegas Review-Journal - Karl Conklin relaxes on the sofa with Pepper, a Labrador that he and his wife, Kim, are caring for while the owners, Brian and Kristle Aleman, do a tour of duty in Afghanistan with their Army National Guard unit.

Las Vegas, NV – When soldiers get deployed overseas, what happens to their pets? Many give their pets to shelters or other organizations and never know whether they become adopted or euthanized. In response to this growing problem an organization that was created to assist deployed military personnel find temporary homes for their pets called the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, which was founded in 2005 and based in Texas.

The Guardian Angles for Soldier’s Pet program helps soldiers like Brian and Kristle Aleman who were being deployed in January and knew they had to do something with their black Labrador, Pepper, and their Yorkshire terrier, Rambo. The couple found temporary homes for their two dogs through the Guardian Angels program.  Without the program, they probably would not have gotten anyone to take Pepper, a large breed, on such short notice, said Specialist, Kristle Aleman, 20.

“We honestly had no other place we could take her,” Aleman wrote in an e-mail from a base south of Seattle, where her unit is training before it heads to Afghanistan in March. “We wouldn’t know what we’d do if we would have had to take her to a pound or anything where we would never see her again.”

The Aleman’ where deployed on January 6th with the 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion which is the second largest Army National Guard deployment in Nevada’s history. Many questions are asked when being deployed in to a potential war zone but the couple knew one thing was certain; their dogs would be taken care of while they were gone.

Kim Conklin, 43, is a library supervisor, and heard about the Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet program on the CBS news. “I thought it was a neat program,” she said. “It’s one less thing they (soldiers) have to worry about.” Kim’s husband, Karl, 46, is a police instructor and has never served in the military but feels that caring for soldiers’ animals is a good way to help. “Maybe you could call it a civic duty,” he said. “Even if you don’t agree with the war, you should support the troops.”

The Aleman’s black Labrador, Pepper, will be a guest of the Conklin’s until their one year tour is up.  She’s like our own dog,” she said. “But you have to think in the back of your head that we’ve got to give her up in a year.” Karl Conklin said it’s difficult not to get attached to a dog that is so affectionate. Then, as if on cue, Pepper trotted over and laid her head in his lap. “They’re our fur children,” his wife remarked.”These are the only kids we’re ever going to have,” he said.

Like most volunteer organizations, Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is understaffed and needs help from those willing to put in the time to help. Nevada’s coordinator, Sarah James, is in charge of placing pets in 30 states. Only a few Southern Nevada residents have signed-up to temporarily take care of active soldiers’ pets. If you wish to volunteer you can contact James at