“Our MWD team works closely with the kennels to share good practices and identify concerns that could lead to a decrease in MWD health and readiness,” Hansen said. “We conduct periodic training with the dog handlers to teach basic ‘buddy aid’ medical skills and ensure that the handlers are prepared for emergencies – especially when deployed.”
MWD handlers play a critical role in caring for their dogs, Hansen said.
“They spend a considerable amount of time with them and frequently are able to identify subtle behavior changes that signal disease,” Hansen said. “They help the dogs to maintain their weight, remain active, provide prescribed treatments, and bond emotionally with the dogs.”
MWDs are a huge part of the Army team, and while they don’t wear a uniform, keeping them mission-ready is an important task.
“MWDs are force multipliers and play a critical role in protecting the service member, their families and infrastructure of our military,” Hansen said. “Doing all we can to ensure that these valuable dogs are medically ready is a source of pride and professionalism for our veterinary team. Many of these dogs win our hearts as we provide care to them over the years they serve.”
In December 2015, DCE cared for a MWD that was injured in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device. Both the dog, Rocky, and his handler were injured, and Rocky was evacuated to DCE.
“Our team, together with working dog handlers from the Ramstein and Meisau kennels, provided thousands of hours of care to return him to health,” Hansen said. “Ultimately, with our care Rocky was able to regain use of his injured leg, return to his home duty station and recently was medically retired to his injured handler. His case highlighted the depth and breadth of care that we can provide.”
In addition to working with MWDs, DCE sees more than 500 pets a month and provides services ranging from wellness examinations to specialty referral care.
Wellness focused care, according to Hansen, is helping to keep pets healthy and free of diseases that could be transmitted to people.
“We work to educate owners about the risk of rabies, intestinal parasites, and other diseases that can make pets and people sick.”
These appointments, which include: wellness evaluations; routine vaccinations, pet travel guidance/health certificates, and sick pet examination, are made on a space-available basis.
Additionally, on a space-available basis, referral or specialty-level care is available to service members’ pets.
“We offer advanced medical and surgical diagnosis, testing and treatment on a consultation or referral basis,” Hansen said. “We regularly work with Army Veterinarians across Europe to aid with cases and some of those owners travel with their pets to our hospital for care.”
As Pulaski Barracks prepares to close this coming fall, Veterinary Medical Center Europe will eventually leave its current location and move to Miesau Army Depot, about 20 minutes down the road.
“Unfortunately, our new hospital that is being built on Miesau Army Depot is not anticipated to be complete until late 2019,” Hansen said. “We have been assured that we can remain in our present facility until our new hospital is complete.”
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