Clinic cares for Team Holloman’s closest critters

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
When the family dog or cat becomes sick, injured or needs a vaccination, they are usually taken to the local veterinary clinic. The 49th Medical Group Veterinary Clinic does the same, for a slightly different clientele.

The clinic not only provides care for the family pet, but also for Holloman's military working dogs.

"Our No. 1 mission is to care for the military working dog," said U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Carnett, 49th MDG veterinarian. "At Holloman, security forces have many military working dogs, and we provide comprehensive care for all of them. Whatever they need, we'll provide or support them in a way that we can send them to a specialty hospital if need be."

The care the clinic provides for the MWDs is very important, explained U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Noe Gutierrez, 49th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler.

"As the dogs get older they can develop physical problems, like arthritis or hip problems, faster than normal dogs do," he said. "The two semi-annual check-ups are important for them because they receive a full exam and health screening, and if we don't notice anything wrong with them, that's the only time they see the doctor, aside from dental cleanings."

In addition to the clinic's mission to care for the MWDs, the two veterinarians on staff also accommodate the needs of other pets, Carnett said.

"Any active-duty military or family members can bring their pets in for sick call and we can also provide preventive medicine, dental cleanings and do some spays and neuters," he said. "Although most of our personally-owned animal services are for cats and dogs, we can do health certifications for other pets as well, which are required to take an animal overseas or on a plane."

The services the clinic offers Team Holloman's personally owned animals are very important for everyone on base, regardless of whether or not they are animal owners, Carnett said.

"We're helping out the public health aspect of all the animals on base," he said. "We make sure they are micro-chipped and vaccinated to minimize the spread of disease. Having your pet spayed or neutered is also important in minimizing over-population on base."

Even though part of the two veterinarians' mission is to see Team Holloman pets, they also travel within the local area for weekly training.

"It's difficult for us when people get frustrated because we're not available all of the time or because we can't do emergency room procedures here," Carnett said. "But we go to White Sands Missile Range twice a month; Fort Bliss (Texas) every Thursday; and we also do food inspections at various installations' clinics throughout the United States."

Even with the restrictions the veterinarians face, the amount of patients the clinic has seen have increased immensely, said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Dine, 49th MDG NCO in charge of the veterinary clinic.

"We see, on average, about 42 pets per week," he said. "Since we've been here, we've increased services by more than 100 percent. We had more than 3,350 outpatient records last year."

Even though the clinic has been able to increase production, the staff still remains focused on their top priority: the MWD.

"About 50 percent of all our appointments are for MWDs," Dine said. "We are here to take care of their needs because they are so important to saving lives, whether it be detecting bombs and improvised explosive devices down-range or here at the front gate."

For more information on services the veterinary clinic offers, call 575-572-3303.