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    Joint Diplomacy Enables Emergency Veterinary Care for Drug Detection Dog; Medical Evacuation from Palau to Guam

    K9 Keiko and Her Care Team at U.S. Naval Base Guam

    Photo By Rachel Landers | SANTA RITA, Guam (March 29, 2023) – K9 Keiko and her care team pose for a photo with...... read more read more



    Story by Rachel Landers 

    Joint Region Marianas

    ASAN, Guam (April 3, 2023) – Unaware of the international diplomacy and inter-agency coordination involved in her care, K9 Keiko, a Palauan drug detection dog, is seen soaking up sunshine and head scratches from her handlers at the U.S. Naval Base Guam veterinary clinic last Thursday.

    Keiko is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois dog with the Palau Narcotics Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. She is one of eight working dogs provided by the United States to the Republic of Palau under the Building Partner Capacity Program. The program, organized under 10 USC Section 333, provides a K9 unit, local handler training, and military-grade dog kenneling facilities to bolster drug detection and border security for the island nation. Keiko has been working on Palau since 2021. In late March, a medical condition required advanced veterinary care that was unavailable on the island

    Palau’s national security coordinator reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Palau and Joint Region Marianas (JRM) requesting advanced veterinary capabilities. As the closest U.S. Military Command, JRM was responsible for coordinating the medical evacuation. Harry Elliott, JRM regional environmental and international law counsel, explained the complex international effort to clear the K9’s transfer to the U.S. military veterinarian facilities. The process involved letters, phone calls, and extensive coordination of personnel across multiple branches of the military. “Our ability to coordinate a request like this demonstrates how strong the bonds between these nations are.” Elliott said.

    Thanks to the strong coordination among the Department of State, JRM, the U.S. CoastGuard 14th District and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia, Keiko was able tobe air evacuated in an HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing plane from U.S. Coast GuardAir Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, within a week of Palau’s request for aid.

    Upon arrival in Guam, Keiko was checked in to the veterinary clinic on U.S. NavalBase Guam (NBG) for diagnostic. Three veterinarians and six veterinarytechnicians from U.S. Army Medical Readiness Command (MRC) Pacific delivered round-the clock care.

    The U.S. Naval Hospital Guam shared their CT scanner and medical expertise with veterinarians and the NBG Apra Harbor Clinic physical therapy department has offered after-hours access to the care team in order for Keiko to use the rehabilitation facilities. With the support of so many behind her, Keiko seems to be regaining her health.

    “We have seen a marked improvement in her condition” Says Col. Stephen Cassle, the MRC Pacific commander overseeing Keiko’s medical care. “She got her appetite back and is already much more alert and engaged. We are starting to see that Belgian Malinois energy again, which is a good sign.”

    The region’s senior military official, JRM Commander Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, stopped by for a morale visit at the vet clinic as soon as Keiko was healthy enough. Despite medical dressings and the haze of antibiotics, Keiko greeted her visitor with a sniff. A blue and yellow medical wrap designed to resemble the Palau flag could be seen on the dog’s front paw as Nicholson took a knee to greet the four-legged patient.

    “I’m so sorry you’re not feeling good. But all of us are here to make sure you feel better again soon, ok? We are going to make sure you feel like yourself again, whatever it takes.” Nicholson said, offering Keiko some reassuring pets.

    Nicholson went on to discuss her prognosis with her care team and thank them for their commitment to the dog’s care.

    “Thank you for all your expertise, I’m happy to see her perking up. This was really a massive joint effort - I mean every branch of the military was here for her from the Coast Guard to the Army to the Navy. Our working dog program is an essential part of our relationship with Palau, and I want to thank you all for being a part of that.” Nicholson told the veterinary care team.


    For additional questions, please contact the JRM Public Affairs Office at



    Date Taken: 04.03.2023
    Date Posted: 04.03.2023 02:58
    Story ID: 441804
    Location: GU

    Web Views: 505
    Downloads: 0