By Senior Airman Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As the doctor walks into her office, she is greeted by an eager, small patient. She checks his vitals and gently pets the top of his head to ease his nerves as the appointment continues.
In most clinics the gesture would be unusual. However, at the Little Rock Air Force Base Veterinary Treatment Facility, doctors being affectionate with their patients is normal.
The treatment facility, assigned to the U.S. Army Public Health Center here, provides care for government-owned animals. The facility’s top priority is providing medical care to military working dogs.
“We’re their primary care managers,” said U.S. Army Capt. Sarah Merriday, Public Health Activity Veterinary Corps officer. “We provide care for them and do our best to respond to general ailments and basic surgery requests so they don’t have to go off base to a civilian clinic.”
The MWDs visit the veterinary clinic for annual checkups, physical injuries and preventative care.
“The MWD population, as a whole, is also seen for heat stress in the summer,” Merriday said. “In a way, they’re athletes, so they’re also seen for physical injuries and rehabilitation.”
In addition to providing medical care for MWDs, they train K9 handlers on how to care for their partners, such as proper ear cleaning, stopping bleeding and how to treat other traumas.
“When handlers are deployed, they’re not going to have a vet readily available; at a minimum, they need to know the basics of how to care for their K9 partners,” Merriday said.
The clinic is staffed by four veterinary experts to ensure the MWDs are able to execute their duties and effectively care for their 2,000 patients.
Although the vet clinic’s main objective is providing healthcare to the MWDs, the clinic also opens its doors to pets owned by active-duty, Guard, Reserve and retired military personnel when the mission allows it.
The clinic also provides a variety of services for pets including preparing them and their owners for international permanent change of stations, neutering, spaying, dental cleanings and microchipping.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to the Little Rock AFB vet clinic, call 501-987-7249.