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Feature | Nov. 10, 2014

Fort Eustis Veterinary Clinic: an animal all its own

By Senior Airman Kimberly Nagle 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Little Fido is not looking so hot, but Fido's owners are new to the Fort Eustis and unsure of where to go.

Fortunately, help is closer than they think: Veterinary providers are standing by to help Fido right down the road at the Fort Eustis Veterinary Clinic, open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The Fort Eustis Veterinary Clinic staff works to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases, ensure the health and welfare of military working dogs at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and nearby Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and care for the beloved pets of the local military population.   

"We can handle everything from vaccines to lab testing for our [personally owned animals]," said U.S. Army Spc. Matthew O'Conner, Fort Eustis Branch Vet Clinic noncommissioned officer in charge. "We also have the ability to perform surgeries on our MWDs."

Every morning, the clinic will call over to each of the MWD kennels to check on the more than 20 dogs they care for. The providers ask about the general health of the animals, if they are current on their shots and immunizations, and if they need any medications.

Afterward, they begin their normal working appointments. The clinic will see up to 35 animals each day by appointment.

"The clinic provides better cost savings for Service members and their families," said O'Conner. "Prices are typically set below the market."

Not only do Service members have the benefit of lower costs, but also the convenience of the clinic being located on the installation.

"Someone that works at [U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command] has the ability to walk across the street and bring us their pet," said O'Conner. "It could be a short drive from base housing and back to bring in the animal."

During some appointments, the clinic collects fecal samples to test for different parasites, the three most prevalent of which are ones are roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. This is important because two of those three can be transmitted to humans. 

"Our job is the [ensuring] wellness of the pet population," said O'Conner. "But if we have the ability to take care of the owners, that falls under part of our mission in preventing zoonotic diseases."

The care of the animals, especially the MWDs, is "extremely important," said Capt. Andrew Chambers, Fort Eustis Branch Vet Clinic chief of vet services.

"The clinic is valuable for the fact that we can help keep our Soldiers out of harm's way by keeping the MWDs healthy," said Chambers. "The clinic also has the ability to keep morale up by keeping the family pet happy and healthy."

The clinic also alleviates concerns for military families facing permanent changes of station by helping them ensure their pets are prepared for the move.

The clinic staff urged Service members to contact them about PCS pet questions as soon as they receive notification of their upcoming move.

"Whether you or joining JBLE or on your way out, we want to make sure your family changes station efficiently," said O'Conner. "At the end of the day, we want our families to be happy, whether they walk on two legs or four."

For more information or to make an appointment, contact the Fort Eustis clinic at 878-5824/1769.