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New military working dog hospital opens

  • Published
  • By Meredith Canales
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs
Department of Defense military working dogs receive a new level of care as a result of Lackland's Veterinary Service Hospital's recent "facelift" Oct. 21.

"The military working dog veterinary service is the supporting organization for the 341st Training Squadron, which is the unit the Air Force uses to run the dog program," said Director Army Col. Robert Vogelsang. "The Air Force is the executive agent, and it is responsible for acquiring, training and distributing the dogs; but the Army is the only branch that has vets, so we provide the veterinary care."

Colonel Vogelsang said Army veterinarians are responsible for doing the medical evaluations of the military working dogs at Lackland.

"The Air Force will evaluate their abilities, their drive and intelligence," he said. "Then we look at their hips and elbows and examine them and take blood work to make sure they're otherwise healthy. When the trainers and evaluators are happy with the dog, and we're happy with the dog, they go through to training."

Though Lackland already had a military working dog hospital, the amount of upgrades needed helped determine that a brand new facility was the best option.

"The original hospital was built in 1968. Over the years, it got a couple of little additions to support the mission, but as the program grew, the technology grew and the medicine got more advanced. It got to the point, especially with the Global War on Terrorism, that there was quite an increase in the need for these dogs," said Colonel Vogelsang.

The hospital staff has been working in the new building since mid-June. "The building is approximately 30,000 square feet," said Colonel Vogelsang. "The administrative side takes up 7,000 square feet, and 23,000 square feet is devoted to the care of the dogs. The entire building cost about $13 million, with $10 million coming from the Air Force for the structure itself and $3 million coming from the Transportation Security Agency, which also has a big presence here at Lackland."

The technology in the hospital is state-of-the-art.

"We have a very high-tech facility here," said Colonel Vogelsang. "When we got our CT, it was actually better than the one at Wilford Hall ... Between the Air Force and the TSA, we have a very nice facility."
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