FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Tattered, well-loved teddy bears, elephants, cats, unicorns and a pig lay in a pile as Soldiers from the Fort Carson Veterinary Clinic prepared to patch up the stuffed animals at the Fort Carson Family Homes Community Center. The veterinary clinic staff held its third annual Teddy Bear Clinic May 22, 2018, through June 5, 2018.
Military children and their Families brought in approximately 50 stuffed animals to be repaired. The event provides veterinary Soldiers cross-training skills by practicing various stitch patterns that prepare them to operate in a deployed environment.
The training specifically gives the veterinary food inspector and the animal care specialist Soldiers the skills to assist the technicians during emergency trauma scenarios in their daily work and while deployed.
"Chester," a black and white cat; "Snowy," a snow leopard; and "Jojo," a gray teddy bear, were just a few of the stuffed animals that needed repairs. Each toy was tagged with the animal's name, child's name and contact information to ensure its proper return.
"I like doing these ones," said Spc. Holly Jeansonne, animal care specialist, Fort Carson Veterinary Clinic, referring to an extremely torn up pink elephant. "About three years ago, I fixed a teddy bear whose face was ripped off. I'm going to add some stuffing and sutures. It won't be too bad."
During the clinic, Capt. Matthew Putnam, veterinarian and intern, First Year Graduate Veterinary Education, Public Health Command District - Carson, gave a presentation on different suture types and techniques. He discussed different instruments and specifically the importance of the square knot.
"Our technicians are actually able to help do some of the closures (during surgery), but they don't get a lot of practice, so this is an opportunity for them to actually get practice just doing those sutures," said Putnam. "They will be able to tie about 50 to 75 knots each. They have an opportunity to do a lot of repetition."
Spc. Janae Brown, veterinary food inspector, Fort Carson Veterinary Clinic, practiced suturing techniques in the Teddy Bear Clinic for the first time this year. She was excited to learn they were repairing military children's stuffed animals.
"I think that this is a good idea because I love helping people," said Brown. "Being able to be hands-on and actually learn how to do this is a good experience."
Family members picked up their stuffed animals June 4-5, 2018, from the veterinary clinic, to ensure each "patient" continues to heal. The veterinary Soldiers returned the stuffed animals with candy labeled as "medicine" and a thank you note.
Shaylise Bowen, a Family member, brought her three kids to pick up their repaired stuffed animals. Her son said that he was happy to have his stuffed dog back.
Maria Cooper, a family member, came in with her daughter to pick up their pink teddy bear "Princess" and her son's stuffed animals, a frog and a pig.
"My daughter liked the idea of bringing them to an animal hospital," said Cooper. "She watches a lot of 'Doc McStuffins.'"
The clinic also provides an opportunity for the community to check out the Fort Carson Veterinary Clinic and see what services are available.
"It is a good way for us to get involved with our community and show them what the vet clinic does," said Capt. Isabelle Gerbatsch, veterinarian and intern, First Year Graduate Veterinary Education, Public Health Command District - Carson. "Right now, there are a lot of Soldiers deploying from Fort Carson, and if we can bring a smile to any child's face when they receive their teddy bear back in one piece -- that makes this whole clinic worth it."