JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
Military working dogs require extensive medical care to ensure they’re able to adequately perform their duties. In the same vein the family pets that service members and retirees also require the same professional care and love to keep them happy and healthy.
The animal care specialists at the Joint Base Charleston Veterinary Clinic take on the task of ensuring the furry friends of JB Charleston are healthy and happy, whether they’re sniffing out a potential bomb or just a chew toy.
Their primary mission is to provide protection for troops and animals from infectious diseases, including those passed from animals to humans and provide for the overall health of the nation's military working dogs.
“We provide care for any of the military working dogs here at Joint Base Charleston,” said Army Capt. Jennifer Brogie, the officer-in-charge of the JB Charleston Veterinarian Clinic. “We also take care of the Charleston International Airport TSA security dogs and any personally owned animals that base residents may own. What we do every day can range day-to-day whether it’s dog teeth cleaning, personally owned animal exams or some other type of check-up.”
The clinic also has the benefit of providing both military personnel with reduced price care for their animals and giving Army veterinarian technicians the training they need for their future careers all within one operation.
“Our vet techs have a really challenging job and seeing them grow is definitely a highlight to working here,” said Brogie. “All the Soldiers here are like little sponges and just suck up knowledge.”
Private 1st Class Breanna Dansby, an animal care specialist assigned to the JB Charleston Veterinarian Clinic, gave her insight on working in the clinic.
“I’ve been here for a little under a year and I can honestly say that I love my job,” she said. “My favorite part is definitely building the relationship with the clients, seeing families come in with a new puppy every so often and watching them grow and bond is just a really nice thing to watch develop.”
Some of the services the clinic provides include canine spaying and neutering, dental care, mass removal and, unfortunately, when needed euthanasia. For the military working dogs, the animal care specialists keep a vigilant eye on the overall health of the K-9s and ensure they’re getting a proper diet as well as their periodic checkups.
“I chose to be a military vet because I was drawn to the working dogs,” said Brogie. “I’ve always thought the idea of the K-9 athlete was really cool and what we could do to prevent injuries has intrigued me.
Army veterinarians also have the additional and lesser known duty of maintaining and inspecting the various food supplies that are available to base residents.
“The other side of our job is the food mission,” said Brogie. “Half of our Soldiers are actually veterinarian food inspectors. We work a lot on the Naval Weapons Station in the commissary and inspect any of the shoppettes for food safety, temperature storage and making sure it comes from an approved source. We verify the food at its source and make sure it’s prepared in a safe manner.”
Brogie said that working on a base like JB Charleston has offered her some unique insight.
“The really nice thing about working on a joint base in general is that you get to see how all the branches operate,” said Brogie. “It can be a unique challenge to be geographically separated from your leadership, but on the flip side we also get to work with the 628th Medical Group and they help us out a lot with coordinating our funding and services. Working with so many units can definitely test and enhance a Soldier’s communication skills.”
Dansby said she was proud to be able to serve the military members and their animals and provide them with the services they need.
“It’s really awesome taking care of the working dogs and I’m honored to work with them,” she said. “The working dogs are so important to the mission and we need to be there to take care of them and ensure they can help protect us. It’s also great to help the families on base with their animals. A lot of them are retirees and you get to hear their stories and learn from them.”