by Airman 1st Class Dillian Bamman
23rd Wing Public Affairs
7/22/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) --
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
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
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
"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
"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."