NEWS | March 14, 2018

Keeping four legged friends at their full pawtential

By Airman Helena B. Owens Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Good health is vital for service members to carry out the daily mission of the military. The same is true for Military Working Dogs. To accomplish their mission of ensuring the security and safety of Joint Base Charleston, they are cared for by the veterinary clinic. The Vet Clinic here ensures the 628th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dogs are always ready for duty and current on shots and health screenings.

“Whether we are caring for them while they are sick or preventing them from getting sick by catching things early, we are enabling them to continue fulfilling their mission requirements,” said U.S. Army Capt. Chelsi Deaner, Public Health Activity, Fort Gordon, veterinarian core officer. “To keep the base safe from explosives, narcotics or other threats, the dogs' health is imperative.”

Military working dogs are a part of the security team. They have standards which must be met to be fit for duty just like service members do. In order for this to happen the vet staff focuses on preventative medicine such as vaccines and bloodwork. Because of the length of time it takes for MWD’s to be trained to go on missions, having a MWD get sick and be out to get treatment could delay missions.

“It takes so long to ramp up the dogs that are going out on these missions,” said Deaner. “If one MWD is out they might not have another one to replace it, resulting in a mission delay.”

The vet clinic works very closely with the 628th Security Forces Squadron to make sure their dogs are in good health. The close proximity between the squadrons makes it easy for immediate access if necessary.

“These services are important to me because it allows our dogs to maintain a healthy, fit lifestyle,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Schoonover, 628th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler. “We get no-notice missions all the time and need health certificates for our dogs to go overseas. Without the help of the vet staff, we wouldn’t be able to fulfill these mission requirements.”

Military working dogs are not the only animals at the clinic. Active-duty service members and retirees are able to bring their personally owned animals to the clinic when appointments are available. The clinic offers routine check-ups, bloodwork, shots, ear and skin treatments and has limited capabilities to perform minor surgeries, if needed.

Additionally the vet clinic has a food safety mission. The clinic staff inspects the quality and safety of food produced throughout the commissary and other food facilities at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station.

To ensure the food is up to standards, soldiers from the clinic do a daily walk through at the commissary and other food facilities around base.

“Any food facility selling to the military has to be approved,” said Deaner. “My troops and I go out and check to make sure the food is safe to consume. It’s food safety and food defense.”