Homeless vets and their pets
Daisy in her crate (image via TDP Facebook)

 

In many cases the bond between humans and their pets is near unbreakable. We will do most anything for them, whether we have the money or not. They are our family members and we care for them and love them as if they were our own children, because in a way they are. That’s exactly how Harold Palmquist, a homeless veteran, feels about his dog, Daisy. In fact, like many vets, he’d rather live on the street than be without her.

Ending Up Homeless

Sadly, approximately 40,000 military veterans find themselves homeless in the U.S. Besides the fact this statistic is appalling, a sizable number of these veterans have pets in tow as they scrounge through life trying to find work and a place to stay. Beyond the obvious problems, most of these veterans will be unable to find lodging open to pets as well. That’s why so many vets opt for street life rather than giving them up.

Refusing to Take “No” for an Answer

Palmquist, a former aircraft armament systems specialist in the military, found himself homeless after discharge from the Air Force and a failed marriage. “That’s where the downhill part of my life started happening,” he’s been quoted as saying. He was eventually accepted into a shelter, but unfortunately Daisy couldn’t be accommodated. After calling around, the determined vet hit upon the group Veterans and their Pets, who soon found a place for Daisy to be housed.

Inside Every Cloud . . . a Silver Lining

While the situation wasn’t ideal, at least the duo was temporarily off the street. But it wasn’t long before Palmquist came to the realization that providence had presented him with a golden opportunity to raise awareness for the tens of thousands of service men and women who still faced the dilemma of separation or homelessness. Besides the fact it’s not much of a choice, the anguish and stress to both pets and pet parents is considerable, to say the least.

 

Homeless veterans and their pets
Harold Palmquist's bike & Daisy (image via TDP Facebook)

Raising Awareness for a Worthy Cause

That’s when Harold Palmquist decided to hit the road with Daisy literally in tow and ride across country on a bicycle equipped with a trailer. “I can do this, and I can show people veterans will stay on the street instead of parting with their animals,” he says. Beginning in Los Angeles, CA, he and Daisy set off on their quest to raise funds and awareness for others in their shoes — or paw protectors, as it were.

Pedaling for Publicity Coast to Coast

If you’re wondering whether the pair’s trip is just a one-way adventure, the answer is no. While the intended destination is St. Simons, GA, that’s just the turn around point for Harold and Daisy. After a brief rest the two will be heading back to L.A. the same way they came. If you’re interested in following the progress of the admirable Palmquist and his lovable sidekick online, you can check for updates on a group Facebook page Harold is associated with.

Helping Veterans Help Themselves

For those of you who aren’t aware, the distress of giving up pets isn’t just a problem veterans are up against after they return to civilian life. It’s also a problem for them before they deploy. That’s why Dogs on Deployment (DoD) was formed with the blessing of the U.S. military. Both groups want to foster a sense of responsibility in service members in the hope of creating some continuity in their lives after they’re discharged. Besides that, animals can be the soothing salve or balm to our souls.

Supporting the Cause

Harold Palmquist has set up a GoFundMe page for donations, if you’d like to contribute to his worthy cause. You can also help veterans, who do so much for us, by checking out and donating your time or money to Veterans and their Pets or Dogs on Deployment. The latter of the two is always looking for pet foster parents for soldiers with no family or friends capable of watching their pets while they’re away.

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