From private practice to West Point-Veterinarian takes on new role
June 11, 2009
West Point's new veterinarian arrived in April at her first duty station to take the reins of the veterinary clinic here. She replaces veterinarian Maj. Dan Wakefield, who left October 2008.
Captain Dixie Burner is not new to dealing with animals as she grew up on a dairy farm in Ohio and naturally developed a love for them.
"We raised cows, but also raised horses," she said. "I initially wanted to go into farm medicine but went into equine medicine instead."
After graduating veterinary college at Ohio State University in 1997, she interned in equine surgery in California. She then moved to Ocala, Fla., where she worked in a private veterinary practice before deciding to join the Army.
"I decided to join the Army through direct accession because (the Army) has phenomenal educational opportunities for all officers," she said. "I was ready for a change and a new challenge. The Army veterinarian's duty is more varied than in private practice."
Burner said she is interested in civil affairs missions or humanitarian work in the future.
"The Army sends a lot of veterinarians to other countries," she said. "For example, the Army is sending veterinarians to the Horn of Africa to work in preventive medicine to establish healthy communities there. A lot of third world countries don't understand that there is a direct relationship between nutrition and clean water to how much milk the cow produces."
Burner is married to retired Marine Lt. Col. Jack Burner who is supportive of her decision to join the Army.
"After 20 years in the Marines, he's enjoying being a dependent for once in his life," Burner said with a laugh. "Actually, I get to spend more time with him than I did when in private practice-No more 18-hour days."
The veterinary clinic-home of the Army mule mascots, Raider, Ranger II and General Scott-has changed in one area. The clinic no longer has a stray facility.
"The new policy is we don't take strays," she said. "No bases are allowed to have a stray facility.
"However, if someone finds a stray," she added, "we will scan for a microchip and contact the owner, if we can find (him or her). We will work with the military police or anyone who has found a stray. Our primary mission is animal care."
The clinic is open 8-4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday. The front desk is open for sales on Thursdays. Animal clinics are conducted 8-4 p.m. Tuesday and also 9 a.m.-noon Friday.
There will be a walk-in vaccine clinic from 1-4 p.m. June 26, which includes a minimal exam and vaccinations.
Vaccinations can include rabies, Lyme disease, kennel cough and distemper.
The clinic offers services for microchipping, spaying and neutering, in-house blood draws, ultrasounds and digital X-rays. The clinic does offer minor surgical procedures such as lumpectomies and dental work.
Flea and tick prevention is available at the front desk.
"I think it is important for people to keep their animals healthy by getting them vaccinated and examined for heartworm or Lyme disease," she said. "I'm here full time."