I work at a military veterinary treatment facility. Being a military wife I’ve had the opportunity to travel back and forth to Germany twice with my husband and so far I’ve been fortunate enough to get employment at the on post vet clinics. They are run by non appropriated funds, which means we aren’t well equipped to run like a full service veterinary clinic can. We are very limited on resources. Non appropriated fund facilities do not receive taxpayer support, so the clinics rely on revenues from routine exams to cover basic operating expenses. That means we aren’t able to be staffed the way we’d like to be such as hiring more civilian employees to cover those shifts since WE cost money. We are unable to carry certain products and offer certain services (IE: weekend hours, overnight hospitalization, emergency, boarding facilities) That can be frustrating especially since the veterinarians DO want to do more for their patients. We do what we can though. Overall people are pretty happy, showing them that you care speaks volumes.
I wish the powers that be could see that owning pets are wonderful for morale. Healthy pets, happy owners, happy soldiers/government employees. It’s a great investment if you look at it that way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a soldier in uniform show up for an appointment with their pet, whether it be for vaccines, a sick call, ear check… whatever. You can tell that the pet means everything to that soldier. One in particular stands out in my mind. Picture a very tall hulking drill sergeant. One of those guys you can easily picture being a hard ass with his trainees. He walks in with a medium sized Australian shepherd with a pink collar. “Gizzy is here for her appointment” He says with a smile. I check them in, fill out the chart and tell him to have a seat until they are called into the back. As they sit in our waiting room waiting to be called in I watch as he talk quietly to Gizzy. “It’s going to be ok.. you are going to see the doctor then we will go home and I’ll give you a treat because you are so good! yes you are! Daddy loves his pretty girl so much!” The dog rarely took her eyes off of her ‘daddy’. Witnessing this love between the two of them was so freaking adorable and it’s obvious that having her in his life makes his world a much better place.
The vet clinic IS available 24 hours a day for our military working dogs. As part of the military ‘mission’, the dogs that work as military police dogs and deploy receive the best possible health care that can be offered. The government owned animals are only treated and handled by military staff. There was once an incident where our xray unit was not working and there was a gravely ill military police dog that was in need of radiographs and a CT. The dog was transported to the human hospital on base by the clinic staff and handlers for what the dog needed. Those dogs put their furry butts in the path of danger every time they go to work. They get PTSD just like people do. When they retire, the handler has the option to adopt the dog if they want, which is usually what happens. If not, there are hand picked homes that will adopt them and let them live out their golden years the way they deserve. In Germany there was a retired dog named Pockets that was adopted by an older lady. She would send us pictures of Pockets curled up on a hand knitted blanket in front of the fireplace. He lived happily with her for 3 years until cancer and incontinence took him. We keep some of our working dog pictures displayed in our waiting room. Yellow ribbons mean the dog is currently deployed. I love how proud they look in their pictures, you can tell the dog knows they are bad ass 🙂 I’ve been working in the vet field for almost 27 years, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.