A “Walter Reed” Of Their Own

October 23, 2008

They play an important part in the military and the Global War on Terror. They serve in all branches of the military and their civilian counterparts hold down very similar jobs to theirs. They hold a variety of jobs, such as searching for bombs, searching for bodies, go on patrol and search for illegal substances. They are the military working dogs and just like their human counterparts, they too suffer from combat related injuries.

On Tuesday, a brand new veterinary hospital to treat military working dogs opened at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, called the Military Working Dog Center. The facility will offer advanced medical treatment to dogs wounded in combat. For them, it will be the ‘Walter Reed’ of the canine world.

When they are injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, just like their human counterparts, they receive emergency medical treatment on the battlefield. They are then flown to Germany for further treatment and care. If necessary, they will then be flown to San Antonio for more advanced care at the new hospital. Much like human Soldiers, who when injured are air-lifted first to Landsthul Army Medical Center and then on to either Walter Reed or Brooke Army Medical Center for additional treatment.

“We act as the Walter Reed of the veterinary world,” said Army Col. Bob Vogelsang hospital director, referring to the Washington military medical center that treats Troops returning severely wounded from Iraq or Afghanistan.1

Once the dogs have sufficiently recovered from their injuries, they can return to combat. Prior to the opening of the center, veterinarians had to treat and rehab the dogs in a small building that was opened in 1968, to deal with military working dogs who were injured working in Vietnam. By September 11, 2001, the hospital was already outgrowing the building. With the two wars going on, the demand for military working dogs has increased, thus increasing the need for more space at the hospital to treat those that become injured.

At the hospital, injured dogs receive top-notch care. In place are operating rooms, digital radiography, CT scanning equipment, an ICU, rehab rooms, an underwater treatdmill and exercise balls, among other things. A canine behavioral specialist is also housed in an office near the lobby of the building.2

“This investment made sense … and somehow, we were able to convince others,” said retired Col. Larry Carpenter, who first heard complaints about the poor facilities in 1994 and later helped launch the project.3

The training that a military working dog goes through is intense and packed into just four months. The demand is much greater than the number of dogs that are available. It only makes sense, that because of this, that military veterinarians would work to keep the dogs healthy and able to work for as long as possible. Usually a dogs enters into the program when they’re about 1 ½-3 years old and they can typically work until they’re around 10 years old. Once they retire from the military, the military attempts to adopt them out, sometimes to police departments for their K-9 programs, but often to private individuals.

This is a great thing and it only makes sense, that the military would have top notch veterinary facilities available to care for military working dogs who are injured in the line of duty. The jobs that they do are invaluable and have saved countless human lives, doing jobs that would otherwise have to be done by humans. These 4-legged Heroes deserve only the best when it comes to their medical care.

  1. http://www.military.com/news/article/war-dogs-get-their-own-walter-reed.html?col=1186032310810&wh=news []
  2. http://www.military.com/news/article/war-dogs-get-their-own-walter-reed.html?col=1186032310810&wh=news []
  3. http://www.military.com/news/article/war-dogs-get-their-own-walter-reed.html?col=1186032310810&wh=news []


One Response to “A “Walter Reed” Of Their Own”

  1. Kristen on October 23rd, 2008 8:12 am

    Cool! :)

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