CANNON AIR FORCE, NM —
Members of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps from a Public Health Activities tenant unit at Kirtland Air Force Base conducted quarterly tactical care training with Military Working Dog (MWD) handlers from the 27th U.S. Air Force Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, Feb. 14, 2022.
As some of the only military veterinarians in New Mexico, Army Animal Care Specialists have traveled from Kirtland AFB to train dog handlers in emergency combat care situations so they can administer first aid to their dogs in field conditions where veterinary services are not available.
“Dog handlers are trained in first aid combat care so they can treat injuries in the field before a veterinarian can come in contact with them,” said U.S. Army Capt. Cynthia Edgerton, Army Veterinary Corps officer. “Some of the processes we look at include eye injuries, limb injuries, shock recognition, dehydration, and hot and cold weather injuries.”
Through classroom training and hands-on lab exercises, handlers were able to familiarize themselves with various wraps and bandages by applying them to an MWD from 27 SOSFS. This allowed each handler to treat a life-threatening simulated injury to a dog.
“The vets teach us MWD care techniques to use in an emergency,” Air Force Master Sgt. Leah Abelar, 27, SOSFS military working dog handler. “We don’t have a vet on site here and the nearest veterinary care center is three and a half hours away. A real emergency will require us to be able to think things through and provide potentially life-saving care to the military working dog.
The Army Veterinary Corps is vital to the Department of Defense providing support to all branches of the military.
“Being able to take integrated training on a quarterly basis not only keeps us sharp as handlers, but it also brings the element of being able to learn from our brothers and sisters in different branches,” Abelar said. .
These skills taught to material handlers are vital for operations in deployed locations, where MWDs are often used.
“MWDs are an invaluable asset to the Air Force, as they are capable of not only performing tasks during day-to-day operations, but also serving as a physical deterrent, force multiplier, and detecting danger. “, said Abelar. . “There is no military or civilian technology equal to or better than a dog’s nose.”