Pet Surgery Must now be Done Off-Base


A change to on-base veterinary clinics that is reported as “temporary” means you’ll need to take your pets off-base for routine surgeries, at least for now.

The command that oversees veterinary clinics on bases across all services has halted the surgeries, including neutering and spaying, as a means of reigning in service options and getting back to basics, the Army Times reports.


Pet clinics are run on revenue from the people who use them, not funds given to them by Congress. The bulk of that money comes from routine appointment fees and from the income earned when you buy flea and tick, heartworm, or other routine medications for your pet.

But a recent expansion in surgery offerings have left the clinics offering fewer routine appointments and, therefore, earning less money. Surgeries can take a long time — officials told the Army Times that 50 pets could’ve been seen for a routine appointment during the time it takes them to conduct one surgery. And since the surgeries are done at cost, they are not a money maker for the clinic.

While this means that routine pet surgeries – like tooth extractions, for example – must now be d0ne off base there could be an even bigger impact thanks to a different set of surgeries that now must be outsourced: spaying and neutering.

On many bases with pet shelters, such as where we live at Fort Campbell, Ky. the cost of spaying or neutering an animal is included in the cost of adoption. Otherwise spaying, for example, cost $25 for a 45-lbs. dog. Elsewhere the procedure can cost up to $300. Even the low cost clinics at the Humane Society can cost up to $175 depending on the size of the pet.

That means military-affiliated pet owners may be less likely to get their pets spayed or neutered. That could, logically, mean more unwanted animals — and even greater crowding at on-base shelters.

But officials with the Army’s Public Health Command, which oversees the clinics on all bases across the services, said they don’t think the procedures not being offered on base will keep people from getting them. The clinics only performed about seven surgeries per month, they said.

“We do not have any concerns that the suspension of surgeries at military veterinary clinics will dissuade families from getting these procedures for their pets,” said C0l. Thomas Honadel, veterinary services portfolio director for USAPHC. “Since surgeries in military veterinary clinics have never provided more than a limited number of surgeries, this suspension should have negligible impact on unwanted animals on or off-post.”

Do you think this change will result in pets not getting neutered or spayed and, therefore, unwanted litters? Tell us in the comments.


Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • anonc

    I can see this having a really big impact overseas. We are stationed in Korea and off post I was quoted about $700 to neuter my large dog and would have had to travel about 2 hours away to have it done.

  • Jmann

    Have your dog spayed or neutered before moving to Korea and don’t get a dog there.

    • nragirl

      I don’t know why this got downthumbed. I volunteered at one of the Army vet clinics for a while. The sheer number of people who buy puppies (puppy mill puppies!) and then abandon them without neuter/spaying is astronomical and should be criminal. The sheer number of men who came in thinking it wouldn’t be macho to spay their male dogs was disgusting. There are soldiers buying puppies for $300-$500 then balking at paying $150 to spay/neuter and then simply dumping them because they don’t want to pay $150 to bring them back to the States. Korean animal shelters are ALL 3 day kill shelters. They don’t even microchip scan because they’ve learned its a waste of time.

  • Charlie

    The impact will be that the vets will no longer need to be as qualified. This will lead to fewer vets, more “assistants”, etc. Any cost savings will be the result of lower paid “assistants” and fewer vets.

  • Sarah

    Surgery to remove bladder stones for my dog cost us around $400 on base, it was a few a years ago so give or take $100. It happened again and they couldn’t see us for a month so I went off base and it was $1,200 for the same procedure. We are smart enough and fortunate enough to save for these types of things because you never know what is going to happen. If you can’t afford to spay or neuter a pet you don’t deserve to be a pet owner. It’s step one to a healthy life. On top of that monthly medications and food can cost over $1,000 a year (we have two dogs, one of which is large and one of which is on prescription food because of the stones). Point is, if you were relying on base clinics to be able to afford it, you can’t afford it.

  • Dennis

    As usual, there is little common sense from the Army. Fifty animals can be seen in the time it takes for one surgery? So, you are kicking each pet out in 2 minutes? That’s if it is a 2 hour surgery. Most are less. It is over estimating to say that the clinics are seeing 25 pets in a shift.

  • Liz

    A Korea dog rescue group told me spaying/neutering cost anywhere from 300-800 in Korea. The amount of stray animals here is overwhelming and we should not be contributing to it. Neutering is a basic service (just like shots) that should always be offered especially overseas!

  • Jess

    Our dogs’ procedures at a Navy base vet clinic were actually more expensive than at the civilian clinic we use. And had a much longer wait list. The procedures we had done in August were put on the wait list in February. Six months and a lot of dollars for a tooth extraction and cyst removal.