Tanja Turner will no longer face an extended commute, thanks to the opening of the Patriot Pet Care center on Fort Belvoir. Turner joined a small group of installation staff and pet owners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony July 17.
In the past, the Woodbridge resident, who works on base for the directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, had to factor in an extra 45 minutes sometimes because of rush hour to pick up her cocker spaniel, Cooper, at an off-site facility. But, those days have come to a close.
The 5,100- square foot Patriot Pet Care was scheduled to welcome its first customers Monday for anyone’s pets needing grooming. Patriot Pet Care will run at 50% capacity after the first week and 100% after two weeks.
Besides grooming, Patriot Pet Care provides 48 indoor/outdoor boarding rooms for dogs and 30 cat condos. There is an outdoor play area and training will also be available.
“This is really convenient,” Turner said. “My dog should be real tired by the end of the day.”
Col. Michael Greenberg, garrison commander, arrived with his two dogs, Skion, a 2-year-old golden retriever; and Sasha, an 8-year-old Chiweenie.
“We understand the importance that you want your pets to be safe, in a good place, when you’re gone,” Greenberg said. “... it’s a great asset to be available here on the installation.”
George Dickson, FMWR director, noted the idea was conceived over 13 years ago and it’s been a “long journey” to make the pet care facility a reality.
In particular, Dickson cited specific challenges the center’s construction faced in the last 15 months, including 375 concrete footers that needed to be removed and finding an old building’s foundation. The pandemic delayed the project more, he added.
“None of these challenges has kept us from getting to this day,” Dickson said. He expects the facility to fill up fast, since there are 1,000 pets among the 2,200 residents on post. Base and non-base personnel can drop off their animals. Walk-ins are permitted, but must have shot records for their pets with them. Reservations are encouraged.
Katie Boyette is Patriot Pet Care’s director. A Virginia native, Boyette was looking for ways to come closer to home, when she saw an ad for the Patriot Pet Care job. Boyette was working in Pittsburgh at the time, but jumped at the chance to move back to Virginia and stay in a field she loves.
“It’s proven these are very popular on post and used regularly,” said Boyette, who started in February. “It’s a service that is needed for those getting out of town for pleasure or to support the mission. Their animals will be well cared for.”
For more on Patriot Pet Care Center, visit belvoir.armymwr.com