FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- A new program is underway on Fort Huachuca to handle strays, aggressive dogs, cats, and other domestic animals, and get the animals back to their owners.

Fort Huachuca's 18th Military Police Detachment is now in charge of the Stray Animal Facility, Building 30015. The MP's new section took over the program in the beginning of April. Prior to that, stray or aggressive animals were picked up by the MP's customs section, but the program was not run 24 hours, 7 days a week as it is now.

"Our main concern is the safety and health of this community as far as animals go," said Sgt. Kristin Bryant, noncommissioned officer in charge of the facility. Bryant noted in May the unit picked up 17 dogs, 1 cat and 4 kittens.

The Stray Animal Facility personnel will handle any complaint involving a domesticated animal. The Soldiers attached to the unit pick up the animal and bring it to the facility. At that time, basic paper work which describes what the animal looks like, where it was found and if there was a complaint. Next, the animal is examined by the post veterinarian.

If the animal is microchipped or has identification tags, the Soldiers will work to get the animal back to its owner. However, the pet owner must show proper paperwork to get their animal back.

"We get a stray, and people think they can just come in here and pick up their dog, but we don't know if it's their [pet]. We need to have that paperwork - proof of ownership, up-to-date shot records, vaccinations, rabies. If they don't have what they need to get with the vet and then we take it from there," said Spc. Stephen Whitlock, Animal Control patrol officer.

"And we need to know that [paperwork is] up to date and current. Not eight months, nine months old, and that's what we're having a lot of problems with," added Bryant.

If the animal is unable to be identified, the facility staff holds it for 72 hours. After that, if no one comes forward to claim it, the animal is taken to the Huachuca City Police Department animal control facility. Once there, animals are put up for adoption if the owner is still not located. The number to that office is 546-1337.

"If a person loses an animal, make sure we know about it so we can make a note and look for that animal while we're out in the field," said Bryant. The number to the MP desk is 533-3000.

This is why the unit is urging people to make sure their animals are microchipped.

"If you're living on post, regardless of your status in the military, always see your vet. You have to get your animal registered on post and have all your updated paperwork. So make sure your animal is always chipped just in case they get out, that way if we do find your animal we can find you," explained Whitlock.

The unit urges people who see domesticated animals wandering around post to call the SAF.

"We don't want anyone getting bitten. We don't know if the animal has rabies," added Whitlock, explaining animal control officers are on shift 'round-the-clock, year 'round.

"Call any time, day, night and we'll be out there."

Whitlock noted the only time the Stray Animal Facility does not accept animals is when people just want to get rid of them.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16