Fort Lee seeks community help with stray animal control
Stray animals on military installations can affect the health and welfare of personnel, their pets and wildlife populations. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. – Citing drawbacks such as the spread of disease and human encounter injuries, post leaders here are asking for the community’s help with enforcement of Fort Lee’s Pet and Stray Animal Control Policy.

In a recent incident, stray cats found their way into the Lee Commissary and caused a few hundred dollars’ worth of damage. The main shopping complex on post and the hotel/garrison headquarters area along 34th Street are two places where feral felines are seen most often.

“Stray animals on military installations can affect the health and welfare of personnel, their pets and wildlife populations,” reads a portion of policy letter 19-9. “Individuals will not abandon animals on Fort Lee,” the document also directs. “Providing food, water or shelter to stray, feral or wild animals is prohibited.”

An information sheet provided by Capt. Cortney Curtis, branch chief for Veterinary Services here, outlined the detrimental effects of stray animals. Feral Cats can carry zoonotic diseases, which are infections that can be spread from animals to humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named cats as “the single greatest source of rabies risk” in the United States.

“Cats have the ability to inflict serious harm to others,” the info paper also stressed. “Oftentimes, bites or scratches can lead to severe infections that may require hospitalization.”

Leaving food out for strays compounds the problem of attracting additional animals – to include pests such as rodents, skunks, raccoons and possums – and thus upping the risk of spreading disease or a human encounter that results in injury.

The best practice is to leave strays alone. Curtis noted that even a seemingly friendly animal can be quickly frightened and act out aggressively to escape.  Any scratch or bite, she reiterated, should be brought to the attention of a medical provider to determine if treatment, medication or advanced care is needed.

Individuals can report strays – particularly animals that are acting aggressively or have the potential for causing damage or injury – to the military police desk at 804-734-7400. It’s important to note also, according to the Fort Lee Environmental Management Division, that not all wildlife falls into the classification of “stray animal” if it is not posing an immediate threat.

Snakes, bears, deer and other creatures that reside in wooded areas on and around post prefer to avoid human contact and will usually return to the safety of their habitat if left unprovoked. Any sightings of that nature can be reported to the EMD at 804-734-5014.

The Fort Lee policy also outlines dog breed and exotic animal restrictions, as well as expectations for the care of domesticated animals owned by individuals residing on post. All pets, for example, must be registered with the Veterinary Treatment Facility. No more than three animals are allowed per household. Owners must clean up pet waste whether it’s in their yard or out on community walks. Pets are prohibited from splash parks and playground areas.

“Failure to comply with pet ownership requirements will, in addition to other administrative or punitive actions, require [owners/caretakers] to be held responsible for all costs incurred by other parties as a result of care and maintenance provided … due to animal-related damages,” the memorandum also directs. “[It] may result in impoundment or removal of pets and loss of the privilege to have pets on Fort Lee.”