RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The customers sometimes meow and often bark on a typical workday at the Randolph Veterinary Clinic.
Located between the post office and education center, the vet clinic is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Appointment and inquiry calls are taken after 8 a.m. and the clinic is closed all holidays, weekends and the last weekday of the month.
Although the office is a service of the . Army, it falls under both the 12th Services Division and the 12th Medical Group here.
Fort Sam Houston houses the veterinary headquarters and a large clinic performs surgeries and more complicated procedures is not available at the Randolph clinic.
Dr. Richard Avery, assisted by vet technician Stephanie Geren, joins Donna Bothe, Michelle Thomas and Karen Courter to round out the Randolph veterinary team.
"It gets extremely busy at times but we strive to provide meaningful care for all of the animals brought here," said Ms. Bothe, a 23-year Randolph veterinary team member. "Our prices are certainly competitive with other veterinary offices and we put our customers and their pets first in priority.
"It is positive to have as much business as we do, but that necessitates having policies in place regarding appointments, no-shows and safety precautions."
Owners who bring pets to the clinic must carry proper identification and paperwork. It is open to active duty military, retirees and Reservists (on orders) and their family members.
Although most of the services provided at Randolph are minor, the staff can help customers alleviate seeking care elsewhere.
"We have no x-ray capabilities and we do not do anesthesia," Ms. Bothe said. "We are not allowed to recommend facilities that aren't military-based but we help customers get to the right places if we can't help them."
The Randolph clinic often deals with well-pet visits, rabies and immunizations, problems related to ears, eyes and skin, leukemia testing, old age, and bloodwork that's used to treat and prevent illnesses.
The top priority for all military veterinary facilities is the well-being and continuation of the military working dog program, which trains dogs to provide force protection to military installations.
A popular topic for many customers involves pending owners and pet trips to foreign countries. When a trip is planned that includes a pet, there must be proper documentation of immunizations and care to show to customs officials and national authorities.
"This process has to begin as much as six months prior to a trip," said Ms. Thomas. "We can't emphasize enough the importance of getting this process started early. If the paperwork and documentation is not in order, the pet could face being quarantined for the duration of that person's vacation."
Microchips are another item of interest, placed underneath the animal's skin that serves as an up-to-date source for all pertinent medical and registration information.
To have a pet treated at Randolph Veterinary Clinic, patrons must produce current shot records, including rabies vaccinations and any other existing medical history paperwork. Except for newborns, there must have been a visit within the past year to a military-based veterinary facility for any shots or treatment to be administered.
"The microchip is becoming increasingly popular and some areas are starting to require that technology when pets are registered," said Ms. Bothe. "People with pets here should register them with the housing office here or the Pinnacle management group."
Many microchips, she added, can be read by a universal scanning device.
"We can't endorse or recommend services to individuals but we can suggest that they do common research on the Internet or through other means to make responsible choices regarding their pets," Ms. Bothe said.
Registration is important for a number of reasons. If stray or roaming animals are picked up on base, they commonly are taken to a security forces holding area. If not picked up in a short period of time, they are transferred to a facility in Schertz where decisions are made about their future.
For more information on the Randolph Veterinary Clinic, call 652-3190. The Fort Sam Houston clinic can be reached at 295-4260 and the Lackland Air Force Base clinic can be reached at 671-3631.