Caring for Soldiers' best friends
April 12, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The military's four-legged warriors aren't the only patients served by Fort Jackson Veterinary Clinic.
While the clinic's primary mission is to care for the military working dog, it also serves the pets of retirees and active service members, said Sgt. Jeanie Hettler, with Public Health Command District-Fort Gordon (PHCDFG) Veterinary Services.
"Our primary mission is the working dog," she said. "As long as staffing permits, and we can handle the mission, we also do pets of retirees and active-duty military."
The clinic currently sees to the needs of 19 military working dogs, a reach that extends from Fort Jackson into other states. Not only does the staff treat dogs from Shaw Air Force Base, but dogs working for the Transportation Security Administration as far away as Charlotte,N.C., as well.
"Each military working dog is (worth) about $45,000, depending on what they're qualified to do," she said. "As an asset to the military, we can't let anything happen to them."
The care for military working dogs varies on the animal's age, she said.
"They get care every six months, which is standard," Hettler said. "They'll get a full blood work-up; we'll check their urine; and every year they'll get vaccines, blood work, dental cleanings, and also monthly preventive heart worm and flea and tick control."
Because it's a military operation, Hettler said the prices are usually less expensive than civilian veterinary clinics.
"We're here to help the military, we're not here to make a profit," she said.
Most of the animals treated at the clinic fall into the range of traditional household pets. "You have the occasional pocket pets like hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. Typically, we just see cats and dogs," she said. "Our mission is very big. It's not just the privately owned pets, it's not just the medical care of the working dog. We also have to check every animal facility on this installation on a regular basis to make sure it's suitable for the welfare of the animals. We do quarterly first aid training for all of the handlers so, in the event that we're not available, they can care for the animal."
The clinic can also offer support for Soldiers and their families interested in taking pets with them on Permanent Change of Station moves that take them into other countries.
"Japan, England, Germany -- they all have different regulations and rules for your pet," Hettler said. "If anyone is confused, we've got all that information. We also do health certificates, so if you're on PCS orders, there's no charge for it."
The Fort Jackson Vet Clinic appointment hours are Monday-Wednesday and Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.; and Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Animals are seen by appointment only.