So, what are your options for veterinary care on post and off post? I opt for registering my pets with the on-post veterinary treatment facility (VTF) as soon as I arrive (PCS) at a new post AND registering them at an off-post, private veterinary clinic. In this way, I can schedule my routine pet appointments, like vaccines and annual exams, at the military vet (and save some major mula) and for those random petastrophies, if the military vet’s schedule is too full, I call my private vet – who already has my pet’s file – and schedule an appointment. A private vet is also good if you plan to utilize boarding services or if your pet requires specialty or continuous care treatments.
Many military posts provide veterinary services to military family pets, but their mission is to provide care for military working animals – think military working dogs, cavalry or parade horses, and the occasional hunting hound.
In my experience, as a volunteer at and a client of the military veterinary treatment facilities (VTF), the veterinarians and technicians and office aids and volunteers are all highly competent, helpful practitioners. However, their focus is on military animals, as it should be. You need to keep in mind that your non-human family member is not a scheduling priority, so be patient when the soonest appointment available at the VTF is a few weeks away.
To register your pets at the VTF – simply go to the VTF and ask them for the registration paperwork. You will need to know your active duty spouse’s rank, grade, boss’ name and contact information, etc. to fill out the paperwork. If you are transferring your pet’s vet file from your former post’s VTF to your new PCS vet, you should have collected your pets’ green vet files BEFORE you left your last duty station. Bring these files with you to register your pets at your new post’s VTF. (If you are only registering your pets at that time, and not also scheduling any appointments, the VTF may not take the pet’s files yet. Typically you bring the files to the first pet appointment).
*Tip: if you’re scheduling an appointment at your post’s veterinary treatment facility, expect to be scheduled two weeks out (or more). So, do NOT wait to schedule an appointment for your dog’s Bordetella vaccine the same week you plan to board, groom or put the animal in daycare.