ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – An Army veterinary team from RAF Feltwell played a critical role in saving the life of an Air Force military working dog recently.
The Air Force mission relies on the dedicated work of all its members and it takes considerable effort to keep the force fit to fight, all the more so if your patient can’t speak.
“Our primary mission is to provide 24/7 care to all of the military working dogs at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, Royal Air Force Mildenhall and dogs that might deploy out of this location,” said U.S. Army Capt. Samantha Warner, RAF Feltwell Veterinary Treatment Facility officer in charge. “That includes normal routine care, as well as emergency care or sick call for the military working dogs in the area.”
Recently, Warner and her team saved a military working dog named CChuy by performing emergency care and facilitating emergency surgery.
According to his handler, the Belgian Malinois began vomiting and was not feeling himself. His handler quickly noticed the dog’s change in behavior and brought CChuy to the VTF.
“We performed tests which showed that something was abnormal in CChuy’s abdomen,” explained Warner. “After an abdominal ultrasound, we decided to do a CT [computerized tomography] scan at the RAF Lakenheath medical treatment facility.”
The Feltwell VTF works hand in hand with the 48th Medical Group at RAF Lakenheath to provide care to military working dogs.
“Our great working relationship with the 48th MDG allowed us to schedule CChuy in for an emergency CT scan,” said Warner. “This made it possible for us to determine what was causing CChuy’s illness.”
The MWD had a liver lobe torsion, which is a very rare illness that required immediate emergency surgery.
According to Warner, liver lobe torsion is uncommon in veterinary medicine.
“A part of his liver twisted , which cut off its blood supply and made CChuy feel sick,” Warner said. “The liver isn’t an organ that moves very much, so it’s very rare for it to twist like this.”
According to Warner, if the liver is twisted for too long, the patient could die without immediate surgical intervention.
The resources the MWD needed were beyond the capabilities of the military VTF, therefore the surgery was performed at a British veterinary hospital.
“All of us [host nation and Army veterinarians] worked together on this case,” said Warner. “Historically we scrub in with the [British veterinarians] but unfortunately due to COVID-19, I wasn’t able to,” explained Warner.
CChuy was taken to emergency surgery and is now on the mend. After some rest and physical therapy to regain his strength and endurance, CChuy is expected to return to work.
The RAF Feltwell Veterinary Treatment Facility helps maintain the health of the military working dogs and service member pets in the local area by performing wellness exams, vaccines, health certificates and basic sick call exams.
The clinic also provides services for pets on a space-available basis, and provides information for service members with pets preparing for a permanent change of station.
“We do vaccines, prescriptions, dentals and reproductive surgeries among other services,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Victoria Rincon, an animal care specialist and noncommissioned officer in charge at the RAF Feltwell VTF.
Information on permanent change of station to or from the European theater and relocation tips can be found by visiting: https://www.army.mil/article/235332.
For more information, follow “RAF Feltwell Veterinary Treatment Facility” on Facebook.