NEWS | Jan. 25, 2012

Veterinary care successful at Joint Base Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The health of our furry four-legged companions is important, especially to the well-trained staff at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base Veterinary Treatment Facility.

The primary purpose of the VTF is to care for military working dogs and keep them fit. However, the VTF staff made up of U.S. Army and civilian personnel, also provides healthcare for family pets.

The facility is run by Army Capt. (Dr.) Andrew Schrader, Veterinarian - VTF officer in charge. JB Charleston is his first duty assignment.

Schrader was commissioned as a captain after he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State University.

"The VTF provides the same high quality veterinary care that is expected from civilian clinics," said Schrader. "The price is often lower for many services such as spaying, neutering, dental cleanings and mass removals. These procedures are treated on an outpatient basis. Spaying and neutering your pet not only decreases the number of unwanted animals, but also lowers or eliminates the risk of many forms of cancer."

The VTF fees are based on a U.S. Army standardized rate. Currently, the cost for a pet to be seen by a doctor is $25. If additional care is necessary, the price varies.

"We try keeping the fees low," said Schrader. "However, the money we make pays our civilian staff's salaries. The clinic is also responsible for purchasing all the medicines we provide to customers."

When Schrader arrived at JB Charleston more than a year ago, the biggest complaint he heard was from pet owners having to wait for their pets to be seen by a medical professional. According to Schrader, along with his staff, he has successfully shortened wait times for pet owners.

"By wait times, we mean the time it takes from when someone calls to schedule an appointment to when we can actually see their pet," said Schrader. "Today, in most cases, we can see a client's pet within the same week they call for an appointment. Once the schedule is made, we try to see everyone during their scheduled appointment to prevent from them waiting in the reception room."

The VTF is located at JB Charleston - Air Base (behind the Outdoor Recreation Center) and is available to see eligible cats and dogs for their wellness exams and vaccinations. Active duty and retirees pets are eligible for service at the VTF. Services are offered by appointment only.

The facility is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 963-1838.