LTC Cheryl Sofaly
Director, Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service
Provide primary and specialty level care as well as worldwide referral and consultative services for all dogs in DoD MWD programs and other Federal agencies through our Role 4 facility on Lackland Air Force Base and Role 3 facility at the Medina Annex. Oversee and coordinate Executive Agent responsibilities in the areas of MWD welfare, medical care and authorized research in support of Joint and Interagency missions. Support MWD Handler, Counter-IED Detector Dog Handler, Health Care Provider (HCP), Animal Care Specialist (68T) and Veterinary Corps Officer training both as a training site and as the proponent of the MWD and Counter-IED Handler Training Packages & First Aid Kits and the HCP MWD Clinical Practice Guidelines.
World-class working dog veterinary care: guided by ethical consideration for the health and welfare of each dog; and, accountable to working dog handlers, their operational units and the Nation.
The Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service (DoDMWDVS) is a subordinate unit under the U.S. Army Public Health Command that is responsible for comprehensive veterinary care for all military working dogs (MWD) at the DOD Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, as well as providing referral services to working dogs world-wide. Additionally, the DODMWDVS provides care for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) dogs undergoing training as part of the National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program, also located at Lackland AFB.
The DoDMWDVS cares for the approximately 900 dogs/puppies that are at Lackland AFB, Lackland’s Medina Training Annex (MTA), or in local area foster homes. Much of this care involves routine semiannual examinations, “sick call” examinations when dogs are noted to appear ill or injured, vaccinations, dental cleanings, etc. However, the hospital additionally performs diagnostic procedures and treatments generally only seen at private veterinary specialty practices and veterinary colleges. The main hospital serves as the referral center for working dogs world-wide if the appropriate care cannot be provided by local veterinary treatment facilities.
The service is located in two facilities, a state-of-the-art hospital on the southwest portion of the main base, and a small clinic at the MTA. The main facility, the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, was opened in 2008 and is approximately 38,000 square feet in size, of which about 30,000 sq ft is devoted to areas that directly care for the dogs. The remaining area houses office, mechanical and storage space.
There are approximately 55 people who are part of the DoDMWDVS including 14 veterinarians, 23 technicians, six non-medical support personnel as well as contract dog handlers and janitorial staff. It takes the efforts of all these people to bring the absolute best care to our four-footed veterans.
Defense security industries and the military working dog community have experienced a huge expansion in their missions since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The expansion is documented by increases in both end-strength raw numbers and in the number of emerging programs for assistance, therapy and law enforcement purposes. San Antonio is the home of Army Medicine and home to the 341st Training Squadron, which is also known as the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School. The 341st Training Squadron has more than 200 military (USAF, USA, USN & USMC) and civilian (USAF) personnel dedicated to the care and training of over 900 working dogs on-site, and to producing more than 400 canine (>270 MWD; >120 TSA) and over 600 human (>500 MWD Handlers; >150 Military Kennelmasters; >120 TSA Handlers) graduates per year. Military Working Dogs and Handlers are then assigned to units which can support contingency operations anywhere in the world. The Dogs and Handlers of the DHS Transportation Security Administration's Explosives Detection Canine Training Program secure transportation nodes throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Although San Antonio is not the only location for military and civilian working dog programs, the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and civilian personnel of the 341stTraining Squadron, located on Lackland AFB, produce a large portion of the working dog handlers and working dogs that protect our military installations, transportation systems and, most importantly, our personnel deployed worldwide.
The DoDMWDVS is attached to the 341st Training Squadron in direct support of their missions to "provide trained (MWDs) used in patrol, drug and explosive detection, and specialized mission functions for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies; conduct operational training of MWD handlers and supervisors; and, sustain DoD MWD program through logistical support, veterinary care, and research and development for security efforts worldwide". The DoDMWDVS also supports the TSA mission and vision to "deter and detect the introduction of explosive devices into the transportation system; provide premier explosives detection canine team capabilities nation-wide, through partnerships established with state and local law enforcement agencies; and, to provide technical assistance on a global basis". The LTC Daniel E. Holland MWD Hospital and the Medina MWD Clinic facilities allow 46 assigned military and civilian personnel to: provide routine and specialized veterinary care to up to 1150 working dogs on-site; conduct basic and advanced veterinary medical training for Handlers, 68Ts and VCOs; and, provide global referral and consultation support to working dogs in the DOD and other Federal Agencies.
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