News: Vet clinic keeps tails wagging
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
MARINE CORPS STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - Scooter has a problem.
The tiny mix-breed dog’s short legs drag slightly as he waddles excitedly from place to place. The drag causes him to develop painful raw spots on the pads of his back paws.
Lucky for Scooter, his owner is a veterinary technician at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Veterinary Treatment Facility.
Jacob Crowl, Scooter’s owner, carefully ties soft leather bags wrapped with durable tape onto Scooter’s back paws every time Scooter needs a walk so he can enjoy the outdoors pain free.
Crowl employs the same consideration for all of his animal patients at the VTF, where service members and their families can bring their pets for treatment at a lower cost than civilian veterinary clinics.
“The veterinarians and technicians are more friendly [than a privately-owned facility],” said Ken Barker, a veteran living in Chula Vista. “It’s not some corporation. We come all the way up here [for regular check-ups] and it’s well worth it.”
Mostly pet-owners themselves, the staff at the VTF treat their patients as they would treat their own animals.
“I love taking care of pets,” said Army Capt. Andrea Leach, the officer-in-charge of the VTF. “They bring so much to people’s lives.”
In addition to tender loving care, the VTF offers vaccinations, micro chipping, wellness exams and screenings by veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
Leach explained that the clinic offers a number of benefits for service members, as well.
“We’re more familiar with overseas vaccine requirements,” said Leach. “[Permanent change of station] moves are usually smoother with us.”
In addition to being more seasoned with the unique aspects of pet care in the military, the VTF is generally cheaper than civilian facilities, and veterinarians and technicians can typically spend more time with pets.
The extra time and care with pets is an important reason why many military personnel and beneficiaries chose the VTF, but the clinic is not for every pet need. The clinic does not have the facilities to treat immediate emergencies.
“If your pet is having a life-threatening emergency, do not waste time coming here,” said Leach. She insisted that owner’s seeking such care go to an emergency veterinary clinic off base.
Leach explained that although the clinic is limited in its ability to properly treat pet emergencies, she and the rest of the staff love taking care of pets like Scooter who need regular check-ups.
“We’re here if you need us,” said Leach.