Veterans Benefits Information

...online guide to VA benefits

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home News Vet clinic supports MWD program with care, training

Vet clinic supports MWD program with care, training

E-mail Print PDF

Military working dogs require extensive medical care to keep their noses in good working condition to help sniff out drugs and explosives and aid in base security. 

To ensure these canines are up for the task, the 23rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Veterinary Services Flight supports Moody's MWDs by maintaining their preventative care. 

"Our primary mission is to provide medical care for the military working dogs," said Army Capt. (Dr.) Allison Brekke, the 23rd AMDS officer in charge of veterinary services. "We maintain their preventative care through vaccinations, parasite control and general wellness screenings to keep them fit to fight. 

"We also run a vet clinic on base as a means to keep up our medical skills, so we can continue to provide care to the working dogs," she added. 

Military working dog Mex, assigned to the 822nd Base Defense Squadron, receives a vitals test during a routine checkup at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Mex’s checkup ensured he was healthy and ready to perform the job of supporting base security. Military working dog Mex, assigned to the 822nd Base Defense Squadron, receives a vitals test during a routine checkup at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Mex’s checkup ensured he was healthy and ready to perform the job of supporting base security. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Dillian Bamman)

The MWD handlers interact with the vet clinic regularly for checkups and to receive medical training for their companions. 

"We conduct, at a minimum, quarterly training (with the MWD handlers)," Brekke said. "The working dogs are like any other animal and cannot be operated on for training purposes ... but when they come in for their procedures, we try to get the handlers engaged with the medical processes." 

Within austere environments like a deployed location there might not be a veterinarian available, so the MWD handlers may need to provide medical care to their K-9s to help save its life.

"In the field, we need to have the ability to recognize when our (working dog) isn't feeling right," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Bonello, a 23rd Security Forces Squadron MWD trainer. "Having the training to identify what is wrong with our working dogs can be the difference in saving their life." 

Even if the dog makes it through unscathed, the aftermath of a deployment can take a toll on them. As a precaution, the clinic checks the canines for post-traumatic stress disorder upon their return.

"PTSD is very common in working dogs," Brekke said. "We screen for it post-deployment and have training for recovery. If we observe any signs of PTSD, we consult with a behaviorist to get them the help they need." 

If an emergency occurs with MWDs, like a PTSD panic attack, the clinic's Army technicians remain on call to provide them immediate care when necessary. 

"What is asked of my technicians is far beyond what you'd expect from their job," Brekke said. "They're fully committed to the job, not because of the pay and benefits, but because they care about the dogs as much as I do."

Even through long hours to ensure the dog’s operational health, the technicians continue to help the MWD handlers keep the dogs smiling, according to Brekke.

"We have a really friendly working dog population (here)," Brekke said. "I think that comes from the handlers and kennel masters dictating their kennel environment and care." 





MWD handlers and their canines oftentimes build strong bonds of companionship, and for Bonello, trusting someone with his canine is a big deal. 

"We definitely have a good working relationship with (the vet clinic here)," Bonello said. "I trust them with my dog because they're who we look for when we need help."


Read More
 


Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov