JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA –
Like their handlers, the four-legged members of Joint Base Charleston need to be healthy to continue the mission.
The JB Charleston Veterinary Treatment Facility provides medical care to military working dogs and the cats and dogs of military members and retirees. Additionally, the clinic has the responsibility of ensuring all food sold and served on the Air Base and Weapons Station is safe for human consumption.
The vet clinic's primary focus is to take care of the 628th Security Forces military working dogs. They need to be healthy to train consistently while protecting the base.
“Our mission with the military working dogs has the highest priority,” said U.S. Army Capt. Chealsi Deaner, Joint Base Charleston Veterinary Treatment Facility veterinary core officer. “They have a very important job and, if the dogs aren’t healthy, they can’t do their mission.”
Every quarter the vet clinic conducts first aid training with the military working dog handlers. The training prepares the handlers for common health issues or emergencies that may occur while deployed.
“It is very important for the handlers to have practical experience and acquire good emergency care skills for their dogs,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Valeria Montes, a Joint Base Charleston Veterinary Treatment Facility veterinary technician. “It is even more imperative when they are deployed. Our training goal is to have the handlers proficient in preventing as many injuries as we can. We want handlers to be able to do everything they can medically for the well-being of their military working dog.”
In addition to taking care of their “animal kingdom patients,” the clinic staff works with the Public Health Clinic and the Navy Preventative Medicine Clinic to inspect facilities around the installation that sell or serve food.
“We oversee the food safety mission for Joint Base Charleston,” said Deaner. “The Public Health Clinic handles the Air Base while we work with the Navy Preventative Medicine Clinic to make sure all food facilities are meeting standards. We inspect the 23 different facilities on the Weapons Station. Our main food safety mission is the Commissary. We have several food inspectors who are there daily to ensure everything is done appropriately. This includes making sure the storage standards are met and the sources they’re buying from are approved, so the food being sold is safe to eat.”
The vet clinic’s third mission is to provide medical care to the personally owned pets of JB Charleston. They are open to take care of cats and dogs and usually are able to see up to 10 pets a day, depending on the workload of their other missions. U.S. Army veterinarians are also able to sign health certificates as United States Department of Agriculture veterinarians for pets going overseas with their owners.
“Any active-duty service member or retiree can bring their pets in and we’ll see them,” said Deaner. “When pets get sick their owners are usually very worried about them. In most cases, pets are family members.”
The veterinary facility hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, please contact (843) 963-1838 or (843) 963-1738.