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One of the tubs for bathing pets at the newly opened self-help kennel at Camp Walker.

One of the tubs for bathing pets at the newly opened self-help kennel at Camp Walker. (Galen Putnam / U.S. Army)

When soldiers arrive for duty in Taegu, South Korea, chances are they’re jet-lagged and ready for a good night’s sleep.

If their pets made the flight over with them, no doubt they’re worn out, too, especially after being cooped up for hours in the air.

But now, those new arrivals can put their dogs or cats in a clean, safe, self-help kennel right at Camp Walker, only yards from the Walker Army Lodge, where most transients stay, and next door to the post’s veterinary clinic.

The one-story, cement-block structure is set up with three 25-foot kennels for big dogs and six cages for smaller dogs and cats. Owners can bathe their pets in a large tub or small sink, and use hoses for spray-down cleaning. The building also is equipped with a ventilation system to reduce pet odors, and with year-round temperature control — heat in cold weather, air conditioning when it’s hot.

“So everyone’s pet will be cozy even in the hottest of Taegu’s summers and in the coldest of winters,” said Kevin B. Jackson, a spokesman for Area IV Support Activity at Camp Henry in Taegu.

The free kennel, available to active-duty soldiers and Defense Department civilians, operates on a first-come, first-served basis, Jackson said in a telephone interview.

“When we arrived we brought a dog and a cat from Virginia,” Army Col. James M. “Mike” Joyner, the Area IV Support Activity commander, said in a news release. “We were told you can’t keep pets in Army Lodging, so that creates a dilemma. When your pets are part of the family, what do you do with them in a situation like that?”

Joyner ends his two-year Taegu tour Thursday and will leave for a new assignment.

Construction of the $52,000 kennel began in May, said Jackson. It opened July 1. The Area IV Support Activity funded the project out of the $500,000 cash award it received after being chosen the Department of the Army Communities of Excellence 2003 silver finalist.

“We looked at different ideas and decided on a self-help pet care center near the lodge where people can be nearby to walk, feed, water and wash their pets,” Joyner said. “It will be much more convenient than having to go downtown when you have transportation and language barriers, not to mention the expense of kenneling a pet.”

Pet owners wanting to use the kennel can pick up keys at the Walker Army Lodge. They’ll be given keys to the building and to their pet’s cage.

The building has enough room for more cages to be added later, according to James Hamilton, Area IV interim director of public works.

“The building is designed for ease of cleaning and has room to grow if usage warrants,” Hamilton said in the news release. “All pet owners need to do is bring their own pet food and shampoo. Since it is self-help, people will have to make sure to keep the facility clean.”

“In all of my travels,” said Joyner, “I’ve never seen a place where self-help pet care was available. This should provide a great service to the community.”

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