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Homeless: Stray population increases

Sammy, Rucker and Honey play together Aug. 7 at the stray facility. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Sammy, Rucker and Honey play together Aug. 7 at the stray facility. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: August 14, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 14, 2014) -- Hidden behind a high fence stands a building that many people driving on the installation might not even know is there, but the Fort Rucker Stray Facility on Andrews Road near the Enterprise gate needs the help of the community to save nine furry faces that desperately need a place to call home.

The facility currently has two puppies, four adult dogs and three kittens. And although facility technicians give all the love and care they can, there is no place like a fur-ever home with a Family that will love them unconditionally.

The facility is a kill shelter, and Donna Isom, stray facility animal care taker, said there is always the need for people to come and adopt the animals.

“You are saving a life by adopting this animal. They didn’t ask to be in this situation, but with adoption they can have a second chance,” she said.

The facility is open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and anyone is allowed to adopt from them. The facility is located in Bldg. 8829 and has a Facebook page — Fort Rucker Stray Facility — where photos and information are updated on a regular basis.

Isom said the summer time is always busy for the shelter because many Families are permanently changing stations.  Some of the dogs she has at the shelter have “clearly been abandoned by their owners.”

“It is PCS time and, unfortunately, many pets get left behind or get lost during the transition. So it’s important to make sure you microchip your pet, but it’s even more important not to abandon them on the side of the road hoping someone will pick them up,” she said.

If Families find themselves in a position where they cannot take a pet with them to a new duty station, Isom said the top priority should be to find that pet a new, loving home.

“Many people don’t want to deal with the guilt of dropping them off at a shelter, so they just drive away without their pet. But that’s not becoming of a person,” she said. “No matter what it is that’s causing you to give up your pet – whether it’s a divorce, a move or even allergies – taking in a pet is a major responsibility that you choose to take on. So do the best you can to re-home them because you made that commitment to them.

“But if you do have to re-home a four-legged Family member, interview the person you are giving them to if you’re not re-homing with a close friend or Family member,” she continued.

A shelter is the last place a person should want to leave a pet, she added, but it’s better than abandonment.

“Pets left to defend themselves can get hit by a car, get sick, get attacked by other animals and two stray cats that breed can easily turn into more than 80 million in 10 years . To me, it’s animal cruelty to abandon a pet,” she said.

The facility prepares the stray animals for home living by trying to teach the canines basic commands and dog manners, and exposes the cats to each other so they will be friendly with people and other animals.

Adoption fees vary per species and needs of each animal, but include all up-to-date shots, the first round of age-appropriate vaccinations, a microchip, and spaying or neutering.

“Animals are tested for everything by our vet, and we guarantee a healthy pet to the best of our knowledge,” she said. “The animals are on flea prevention are de-wormed, and dogs are on heart worm protection and cats are tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.”

People are also welcome to bring their pets to the facility if they want to introduce their dog to one they are thinking about adopting.

“The dogs have a say-so, too,”  said Isom. “It’s important to make sure they will get along.”

Isom said that it seems that every time an animal is reclaimed or adopted, two more come in.

“We want the pets to go to happy homes where they are a good fit,” she said. “I spend every day with these animals, and I can tell just by a few questions if an animal is going to be a good dog or cat for a person.”

Isom asks when considering adoption to keep the Fort Rucker Stray Facility in mind.

“Please stop by. You never know when one of the animals is going to adopt you,” she said. “One thing about shelter pets is they know they are being given a second chance of life, and they really show it.”

For more information on animal adoptions, call the stray facility at 255-0766.

This article was originally published at

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