Caring hands and canine heroes

  • Published
  • By SrA Lauren Cobin
At MacDill Air Force Base, the welfare of military working dogs is imperative. These loyal canines, alongside their handlers, play an integral role in ensuring the safety and security of military installations every day.

Preserving the health and well-being of each MWD is a dedicated team of veterinary professionals working with highly trained handlers to support and train MWD operations on a regular basis.

U.S. Army Spc. Kaylah Browne, an animal care specialist assigned to the veterinary clinic, has been caring for MWDs for nearly two years. She shares her admiration for each dog’s personality, highlighting that understanding their unique traits, is essential to the clinic’s mission.

The clinic staff regularly checks on the kennels, performs semi-annual check-ups and is readily available to treat any medical issues on site. Additionally, the clinic staff continuously educates and trains MWD handlers on specialized medical care.

We make sure that we provide quality care to our dogs, regardless of location, said Browne.

Having prior experience as a veterinary technician before enlisting, Senior Airman Mickayla Stark, a MWD handler assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, understands the interdependent relationship between handlers and their canine partners.

Every mission, training exercise and patrol is a joint effort. These pairs train rigorously - building trust and understanding every day to keep each other safe. With this, handlers must be attuned to the dog’s signals, reactions and needs to provide immediate care on station or in the field.

Stark emphasized that the health of every dog is crucial to maintain mission readiness.

When Stark brought in her canine counterpart, MWD Enrico, she displayed a wealth of knowledge, working alongside clinic staff.

“Handlers are trained to draw blood, insert catheters, give fluids and perform other medical care practices,” she said. “I love to educate my fellow handlers on the medical care each MWD needs.”

Beyond duty, the partnership between MWDs and their handlers remains unbreakable. Exceptional care is not only a duty, but a personal commitment to those who serve selflessly to protect the base.

Browne and Stark are a testament to the level of commitment base personnel show to the MWD pack. Personalized care, regular check-ups and in-house expertise ensure these canines stay in peak condition.