When you’re a dog lover serving overseas in the military, it’s hard not to crave canine companionship. Many military men and women do end up adopting and befriending local dogs, but when it’s time to relocate, the process of bringing the animal home too can be a nightmare.
Senior Airman Avaunte Frizzell of the U.S. Air Force and his wife, Josie Hayward, adopted a Great Dane named Henry two years ago. After years of service at the Yokota base in Japan, Frizzell will be changing stations, moving to the Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico in February 2022.
As Henry is like a child to these two, they wouldn’t even consider leaving him in Japan. Unfortunately, shipping the large dog proved to be a major challenge.
Too Big For The Patriot Express
The Patriot Express, the government-contracted air service between the United States and its overseas military bases, should be the most affordable option to get Henry to the U.S. However, the combined weight of a pet and kennel cannot exceed 150 pounds. Henry weighs 145 pounds.
Before they adopted him, Henry had already been with two other families. Frizzell told Stars and Stripes he and his wife won’t just leave their dog in Japan to be re-homed again.
“I refuse to leave him here. We don’t have any kids. He is our pride and joy. That is all we have, and we don’t plan on having kids for a while. And for him, he is big enough to be two kids. It is something we refuse to do.”
Frustrated, Frizzell thinks the Air Force should consider waivers for large pets just like it charges for overweight bags.
“There is no waiver around the weight limit, yet you can take oversized bags, and pay extra for them. My dog (with the kennel) only weighs 40 pounds over the limit; I’ll pay for that. It is already coming out of our own pockets to get them there anyways, so why not let us cover the extra cost?”
Few Options For Henry
Many shippers wouldn’t even consider Henry due to his size. Others charged unaffordable amounts for the Great Dane.
The quote All Nippon Airways gave the couple was a jaw-dropping $30,000. Third Side, a small pet consultation company in Japan, requested $15,000 to ship Henry home.
Knowing the financial burden of bringing Henry home is their responsibility, the couple hesitated to establish a GoFundMe page. But, after running out of other options, they decided they would ask for help.
“Some of you may think this is a lot of money for a dog,” the page’s description states. “But he’s not just a dog he is part of our family and I refuse to leave him behind. He’s already been with 2 other families that had to let him go and I will not.”
The discrimination against bigger dogs is heartbreaking. Great Danes may be large in size, but they’re loving and docile in temperament.
Donations From People Who Understand
Frizzell and Hayward were surprised and extremely touched at how quickly they reached their fundraising goal. After raising $14,131, Hayward turned the donation link off and joyfully declared they would be able to bring their beloved dog to New Mexico.
One public donor to the GoFundMe, Charlotte Oliver, wrote:
“Active duty Navy here, I could never imagine PCSing and leaving my fur babies behind! Don’t worry wingman we got your back! Safe travels with your big baby!”
Rachael Blanks, a military spouse at Yokota and a friend of the couple, also donated to Henry’s transport. She told Stars and Stripes:
“I donated because the military doesn’t have sufficient support in place for members’ large pets. It’s sad that a GoFundMe was even needed, but I was happy to support a sweet friend in bringing a member of their family back home with them.”
Though it doesn’t seem fair to have to pay through the nose to return home with a family member, it’s good to see people who support those who can’t afford to.