FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Partnerships are integral to making any community successful, and Fort Rucker is in a partnership with the city of Ozark to handle stray cats and dogs people may en-counter on post.

Stray animals are no longer handled on the installation by the Fort Rucker Stray Facility, which is no longer operational, but are handled through a partnership with Fort Rucker and Ozark that allows the neighboring city to handle stray animal retrieval, Al Townsend, Fort Rucker Direc-torate of Public Works Environmental and Natural Resources chief, said.

"The process will pretty much stay the same, but the city of Ozark will be handling the stray ani-mal retrieval, which includes reading any microchips on animals to get the animal back to its re-spective owner if necessary," he said.

The reporting process remains the same, as well, said Townsend. People will need to contact the Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Safety at 255-2222 to report stray cats and dogs.

Once a stray animal has been identified, DPS officials will take down all of the necessary infor-mation and contact Ozark officials, Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker Community Police chief, said.

"What we're going to do is contact the dispatch center in Ozark, then the Ozark dispatch will notify the Ozark police department and the Ozark stray animal facility that there is a stray on post, and they will respond," he said.

The animal will then be picked up by officials from the Ozark Animal Control Shelter, who will take the animal to the shelter facility in Ozark.

Dumais reminds people that people should not try to capture strays themselves and make sure to contact the proper authorities if they do encounter a stray animal.

Additionally, if a pet owner loses his or her pet and fears that the pet might have been picked up by the Ozark animal shelter, then pet owners should contact Fort Rucker DPS in order to try and retrieve their animal, he added.

To avoid having their pets picked up unnecessarily, people should make sure to keep their animals either in their houses or in their fenced in areas, suggested the police chief.

"People should make sure that if they put their animals in the backyard that they check on them routinely, since some animals do have the ability to get out of the backyard," he added.

Also, regulation dictates that pet owners must have their pets registered at the Fort Rucker Veter-inary Clinic within 72-hours of arriving on the installation, as well as have their pet microchipped for identification, according to Edwin Janasky, Fort Rucker DPW director.

"That is a safety precaution that exists not only for pet owners, but for others on the installation, as well," he said, adding that the process allows for easier identification of pets in the event they have to be retrieved from the animal shelter.

The partnership between the two communities has been something that has been in the works for some time and, as a result, Janasky said both communities benefit.

"(Those) who are picking up the (animals) are trained personnel, so we think this is a win-win sit-uation between us and the city of Ozark, who has an established stray animal collection pro-gram," said the DPW director. "We have a relatively small number of strays that people encoun-ter on post, but there is still a need, so this helps us both out."

This partnership benefits the community and the people in it, added Townsend.

"Whenever there is an owner who has lost an animal, that's like a child to some people, so you want to make sure that if that animal is captured through whatever means that they will have a mechanism by which they can call to see if their animal has been picked up," he said. "That's a tremendous benefit for community members. There is also a safety issue for the installation, as well, so if there is (a cat or dog) that happens to be a stray, this process will make the neighbor-hoods safer."

Dumais said the new stray retrieval process is under way and working smoothly.

"We've already gone through the new process a couple times and it seems to work," he said. "I haven't seen any initial problems with the procedures -- everything seems to be going as de-signed."