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    Alma Learns to Walk Again

    SASEBO, Japan - “Sit!” yells Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael Angelow, a military working dog (MWD) handler, to his dog Alma, a patrol explosive detector dog onboard Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo.

    CFAS MWD Alma returned to duty May 2, 2020, following an injury where she tore seven of eight flexor tendons in her right hind leg and is the first MWD to return to service following such an injury. She initiated her first bite training since returning on Oct. 14, 2020 onboard CFAS.
    “It’s different and a bit of a challenge,” said Angelow, who became Alma’s handler on Aug. 7, 2020.
    Alma’s injury happened during training on April 3, 2020, when her foot became caught on the ground and was contorted. Her handler at the time, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Eric Schroeder, applied pressure to the open wound and immediately rushed her to the veterinarian clinic. From the clinic, she was driven to Iwakuni, Japan and then flown to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan on emergency medical evacuation.

    Army Maj. Shane Andrews, Chief, Okinawa Branch Veterinary Services, Public Health Activity Japan, performed reconstructive surgery and fitted Alma with a custom-fit orthotic device made of hardened plastic with bike tire tread underneath for traction. She returned to Sasebo on May 2, 2020 where Schroeder and the MWD personnel began rehabilitation.

    Angelow works with Alma with both rehabilitation and retraining to get her back to her previous form. Angelow says he utilizes exercises in the pool for aquatic therapy, ankle weights and basic walking on different surfaces of varying lengths of time. She does daily obedience and explosive detection training accompanied with regular patrol and bite work.
    “She still is limited in a lot of ways,” said Angelow. “There are some things we can’t do, like how we can’t walk her off the leash because we do not want her to make any sudden jerks or movements that will aggravate the injury further.”

    Angelow says she is medically listed as category one, which means she is fully deployable, but there are still limitations while working on her rehabilitation. He says she will return to full form, but it will take time and a lot of hard work.
    Alma is Angelow’s first dog since finishing the Military Working Dog Handler’s Course prior to arriving to Sasebo and he has served as a master-at-arms for seven years prior to becoming a MWD handler.
    The CFAS MWD team is looking to buy a second boot as a backup for Alma and she rejoins seven other MWDs at the CFAS kennel.

    According to OPNAVINST 5585.2C, MWDs’ capabilities are used by naval security forces to defend bases and resources and to assist with enforcing military laws and regulations. They supplement and enhance the capabilities of military security forces and enable those forces to perform their mission more effectively and, in many cases, with significant savings in manpower, time and money.

    CFAS enables 14 forward-deployed Naval forces and 48 tenant commands across 12 geographic locations, supporting a community of 7,400 Sailors, civilians, and family members. It has received awards for Safety, Environmental, Zumwalt Lodging, Golden Anchor, Food Service, and the Region Japan Installation Excellence Award in 2016, 2018, and 2019.



    Date Taken: 10.27.2020
    Date Posted: 10.27.2020 03:11
    Story ID: 381796
    Location: SASEBO, JP 

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