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Army vet clinic keeps pets healthy

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Reynolds, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, and his dog, Dakota, sit in the Veterinary Treatment Facility waiting room at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. This was Dakota’s first visit to the veterinarian since being adopted by Reynolds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Reynolds, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, and his dog, Dakota, sit in the Veterinary Treatment Facility waiting room at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. This was Dakota’s first visit to the veterinarian since being adopted by Reynolds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Reynolds, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, holds Dakota while Andie Rogers, veterinarian technician, takes blood during her first annual checkup at the Veterinary Treatment Facility at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. The blood sample was used to check for heartworm disease or any abnormalities in her blood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Matthew Reynolds, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron structural journeyman, holds Dakota while Andie Rogers, veterinarian technician, takes blood during her first annual checkup at the Veterinary Treatment Facility at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. The blood sample was used to check for heartworm disease or any abnormalities in her blood. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Army Capt. Megan Branham, Public Health Command at Fort Gordon veterinarian, listens to Dakota’s heartbeat during her first annual checkup at the Veterinary Treatment Facility at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. During her visit, she was given a heartworm test, fecal test and vaccines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

U.S. Army Capt. Megan Branham, Public Health Command at Fort Gordon veterinarian, listens to Dakota’s heartbeat during her first annual checkup at the Veterinary Treatment Facility at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., March 12, 2013. During her visit, she was given a heartworm test, fecal test and vaccines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Olivia Bumpers/Released)

Moody Air Force Base, Ga. -- With a staff of three active-duty Soldiers and three civilians to carry out its mission, Moody's Veterinary Treatment Facility's (VTF) schedule can be dog-eat-dog.

But the health of the furry four-legged companions is the No. 1 priority for the staff of the VTF.

"We see up to 65 animals per week," said U.S. Army Capt. Megan Branham, U.S. Army Public Health Command, out of Fort Gordon, Ga., veterinarian. "Most come in for annual checkups, vaccines and dental cleaning, but we also provide fecal tests for intestinal parasites and heartworm tests."

In addition to annual checkups and vaccines, Branham and her staff prepare pets to PCS overseas and educate pet owners about possible illnesses that they might encounter overseas.

"I refer to our customer's pets as 'fur children', because people think of them as a part of their family," said Branham. "It's our job and mission to take care of our active duty and retiree population."

Authorized users of the facility are active duty members, retirees, reservist who are on active orders and their family members.

Not only does the VTF see privately owned animals, they also ensure military working dogs (MWD) are in tiptop shape for deployments and that the stateside dogs are healthy enough to do gate work and other duties.

"My favorite part of this job is working with the MWD," said Lindsey Gren, VTF animal health technician. "I have been working with animals for 10 years, but I find working with the working dogs exciting because I get to see what they do firsthand."

Additionally, Branham and her staff perform surgeries including spaying, neutering and mass removals that may be cancerous.

"We try to provide as many services that we are capable of," said Branham. "If we are not able to do it, we recommend them to another veterinary clinic off base.

"We also do sick calls and surgeries that we are comfortable with doing," Branham added. "We try to keep up clinically, so if a MWD has the same problem, we are capable of helping due to previous experience."

Since Branham and her staff are stationed at an Air Force base, Moody has adopted them as a detachment of the 23d Aerospace Medicine Squadron.

"We used to be a part of the 23d Force Support Squadron and then the Army took us over again and now we are a part of 23d AMDS, because we also do public health related services," said Branham.

Though the Army provides the Department of Defense with all veterinary service they also serve an additional duty being in charge of food safety.

"Army Veterinarians are responsible for food inspections on every base except Air Force bases that provide their own food safety representatives," said Branham. "We go out to the factories and plantations that make the food and inspect the facility."

With all of the services the clinic provides, their mission is to keep the military families and their pets happy and healthy.

"A lot of people don't know we're here, but we are more than happy to see people's pets," said Branham.

The VTF is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 229-257-3312.