MSU veterinarian students explore world of Military Working Dog

  • Published
  • By Airman Hannah Bean
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Veterinary students from Mississippi State University visited the 14th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog Kennel and aircraft static displays Oct. 23, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

Members of the 14th SFS MWD Kennel described the daily activities of an MWD and their handlers. They gave an in-depth explanation of the MWD’s job and the equipment used with the dog.

Some of the equipment use includes different types of collars and vest used in different stages of training. Pinch collars are typically used as a correction tool for the dog’s behavior when with a handler, instead of pulling at the leash constantly. Other equipment like the vest and collars with labels saying “Do Not Pet” are used primarily for the safety of others as well as giving the handlers access to different ways of handling the dog.

A highly useful item for training is the aggression muzzle. The aggression muzzle is a softer muzzle that is an effective way to induce the dog’s courage without the decoy being bitten, however, the muzzle is not consistently used since it can cause pain to the dog.

MWDs also have booties to protect their feet in blazing hot locations. The booties may seem a bit odd to the dog, but they add protection to their paws and prevent them from becoming burned or sore.

“They get to see something a little bit different,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Price, 14th SFS MWD trainer. “I hope they get an appreciation for what these dogs do and they leave here with a better understanding of the operations of a military working dog session.”

The MWD handlers then gave demonstrations of a MWD in a trained real world situation, including scenarios like a suspect not following orders and a pat down. While performing the scenarios, members also answered questions students had about the work and life of a MWD.

“They (should) know what these dogs are doing on a daily basis and what their capabilities are,” Price said. “They (should) understand all of it to be the best vet that they can for that particular animal.”

Because of an MWD’s intense lifestyle, they require medical aid and healthcare on a regular basis. MSU veterinary students visit Columbus AFB every year as a part of their curriculum to learn and experience how MWDs are similar and yet different form ordinary house pets.

“We like to show them how they’re helping us,” said Zachary Kunkler, 14th SFS MWD handler. “In return we get set up with veterinary training through Mississippi State (University).”

Not many kennels are afforded this opportunity, Price said. Because of Columbus AFB’s location, the handlers highly benefit from the veterinarians and gain even more knowledge they can utilize and apply in real world scenarios.

“It’s good to build that relationship that benefits both of us,” Price said. “We can get training from (the veterinarians) and they get to see a whole different side of dogs that maybe they weren’t even aware of.”