Healing Dogs Who Serve

Ok, since the theme today seems to be animals I wanted to share a story with you I read in People Magazine last week. The story was about Holland Military Working Dog Hospital on Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio…….
This story touched my heart because we seem to forget about the animals who save lives in the war. I just want to shed light on these amazing animals so please read the article below from People.com………..

The surgeon is concerned, but not because the patient is drooling. That’s to be expected at the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, located at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Surgeon Maj. Michelle Franklin is examining a spectacular wound on 5-year-old Sumo, a Belgian Tervuren shepherd who has gone through four operations. “We’ve taken pieces of skin from other places,” explains Franklin, pointing at her patient’s side, “and shifted them around to try to help him heal.”

Sumo’s prognosis is good; Franklin says he’ll be able to return to work as soon as the wound heals.

It’s all part of the plan at the $15 million state-of-the art veterinary facility that handles the health needs of the more than 2,000 military working dogs serving worldwide, including dogs that work for the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs Service and other government agencies. “We should be taking care of our veterans,” explains director Col. Bob Vogelsang, 47, a veterinary surgeon. “These dogs are veterans, too.”

Canines in Combat
Dogs injured in combat are treated on-site and, if they need further medical attention, are sent to a veterinary facility in Germany for stabilization. Those needing further therapy and attention come to Holland, named in honor of Lt. Col. Daniel E. Holland, a veterinarian killed in combat in Iraq in 2006.

Lackland Air Force Base is the primary training ground for dogs that serve all branches of the military and has been training canines since the 1950s. Today there are 893 dogs going through training for the military and TSA, learning to detect bombs and drugs and to aid in combat and police work.

“Dogs are lethal force that can be turned off,” says Vogelsang. “If I shoot a bullet and the guy stops, I can’t tell the bullet to stop. Dogs are trained to turn it on and turn it off.”

Holland’s 45 staff members include specialists in surgery, internal medicine and the military’s only animal behaviorist, Dr. Walter F. Burghardt, who looks after the mental health of our four-legged soldiers. “I treat behavior problems,” he explains, “that cause distress in dogs or get in the way of them doing their jobs.”

Doggie Diagnostics
Diagnostic equipment, including CT scan, digital X-ray and a C-arm fluoroscope that can take X-rays in real time and move around an examining table helps specialists treat the approximately 60 dogs seen daily at Holland. Aside from regular check-ups, the tough canines are seen for medical problems as minor as the occasional spider bite to life-threatening emergencies, with roughly 25 staying as in-patients, depending on their condition.

The ICU is staffed around the clock with a doctor and a technician per dog when there are more critical patients — like Warco, a German shepherd from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida who has cancer and is receiving chemotherapy.

Vogelsang stops at Warco’s kennel to give him some encouraging words and make sure he’s got his chew toy. “We hope we can get him in remission,” he says.

Finally, a Forever Home
Warco will be adopted when he recovers — a practice allowed since legislation passed in 2000 made it legal and eliminated hundreds of heartbreaking euthanizations. The waiting list to adopt can be as long as a year and includes dogs who are healthy but for other reasons unable to serve in the military or other government agencies.

“They’ve served their country,” says Vogelsang. “We want to give them a family.”

The story in People Mag elaborated more and talked more about canine’s in combat….Fact: If one dog finds an explosive device he just saved around 150 soliders’ lives!

1 Comment

  1. Kelly
    March 11, 2010 / 6:26 pm

    I need a 'like' button!! 🙂

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