CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Sept. 28, 2011 -- After the recent death of a Soldier from rabies, many commands are reminding deployed service members to stay away from stray animals on and off post.

However, Third Army realizes that service members might miss the loyal companionship animals bring to their lives.

For that reason, commands here have a human-animal bond program in place that provides troops the opportunity to interact with animals that have been vaccinated, spayed or neutered and seen by a veterinarian on a regular basis.

Maj. Alisa Wilma, Area Support Group -- Kuwait, command veterinarian, stated that even if individuals are real cat or dog lovers, they shouldn't pet the animals running around on post, instead they should go to the Red Cross and make an appointment to see Grayson the cat or Luka the dog. Through coordination with the Red Cross, a command can request, the animals be brought to their unit for a visit.

Wilma added "the cats that are seen on post are part of a trap, neuter and release program to provide a biological barrier against other animals, insects and reptiles."

For that reason, Wilma recommends that people who live and work here do not feed the cats or hide them under their containerized housing unit. Dogs are not participants in the TNR program so it is imperative that any dogs seen on post is immediately reported to animal control, as well as any cats who appear to be injured, sick, or does not have a notched ear.

The order to stay away from animals while deployed is meant to protect individuals and not to be punitive in manner, stated Capt. Nick Moiser, 994th Medical Detachment, veterinarian.

"Programs like the human-animal bond program are set up so that people can spend time with an animal that is safe, as opposed to the possible infected dog that is outside of the fence that goes through trash," said Capt. Robert Miller, 994th Medical Detachment Headquarters, veterinarian.

The human-animal bond program is an authorized outlet for service members and government employees who have a need to touch or pet an animal. Through programs like this, Third Army is continually taking care of the emotional and physical needs of deployed service members while continuing to educate leadership on how to better take care of their Soldiers.