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    Unique partnership for Military Working Dogs

    Unique Partnership for Military Working Dogs

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Philip Bryant | Gyozo, 60th Security Forces Squadron military working dog (MWD), chews a toy at Travis...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Philip Bryant 

    60th Air Mobility Wing

    TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The 60th Dental Squadron and the renowned University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) have joined forces to advance dental care for some of the unsung heroes of the military, the military working dogs (MWDs).

    With a shared goal of enhancing the overall health and performance of these exceptional canines, the partnership took shape in the form of the first-ever MWD dental health joint symposium, June 28, 2023, at UC Davis with a series of training workshops covering topics such as periodontal disease, vital pulp therapy, root canal therapy, and tooth wear.

    A team of dental specialists from Travis AFB immersed themselves in the world of veterinary medicine, while UC Davis SVM's experts gained invaluable insights into the unique challenges and requirements of dental care for MWDs. This pioneering partnership has set a new standard for interdisciplinary cooperation ensuring these brave companions are capable and ready when called upon.

    “(Human) Dentists treating MWDs happens only occasionally at a typical base, however when the need exists, it is urgent,” explained U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Stephen Arnason, 60th Dental Squadron residency program director. “MWD dental training for Air Force dentists is capability-driven to ensure all warfighters, regardless of species, can return swiftly to the fight when the need arises.”

    The collaboration began when U.S. Air Force Maj. Andy Ellis, 60th Dental Squadron residency deputy program director, recognized the need for expanding dental training for their residents to cover MWDs. Understanding the vital role that dental health plays in the well-being of our canine teammates, Ellis reached out to the faculty at UC Davis SVM, known for their research and veterinary education.

    “Partnerships between UC Davis SVM and military working dogs, such as those based at Travis Air Force Base, are meaningful because they contribute to the well-being of these dedicated service animals, enhance training programs, foster knowledge exchange, and support applied research,” said Maria Soltero-Rivera, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine surgical and radiological sciences assistant professor.

    Together, along with the lone military veterinarian stationed at Travis AFB, U.S. Army Capt. Melodie Raese, the base’s veterinary clinic officer in charge, they shared insights and best practices to provide the finest dental care for MWDs.

    “Since it is [MWDs] mission to protect their human counterparts, their teeth are their weapons,” said Raese. “It is extremely important for our MWDs to have good oral hygiene, because that directly translates to functionality. It is just like a soldier being down range with their issued weapon -- if it is full of grit and extremely dirty, it will not fire appropriately when it’s most needed.”

    One of the significant results of this unique training, is the development of new military dental residents and that impact will extend beyond the immediate benefit to MWDs at Travis AFB.

    “Conducting this training with our residents acts as a force multiplier as they will take this knowledge gained at Travis AFB and disperse across the globe, bringing their enhanced MWD operational training to remote assignments,” said Ellis. “The symposium bridges the gap between dental school and Air Force mission requirements to ensure that we maximize the readiness and lethality of our total species force worldwide.”

    This comprehensive training equips new military dentists with the knowledge and skills to conduct dental exams, perform dental procedures, and provide post-operative care for the dogs. By sharing expertise and best practices, it has contributed to the growth and enhancement of dental care capabilities within the military community.

    “I personally gained a deeper appreciation for our MWD program and realized I have the skillset to help,” said Capt. Jakob Dransfiled, 60th Dental Squadron resident. “Having the opportunity to learn from experts at UC Davis gave me the confidence to be an option for MWD dental care. This joint training offered a glimpse into a new realm of dentistry that I have not considered before.”

    The joint symposium is a testament to the power of collaboration. Both Arnason and Ellis expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to work side by side with UC Davis Veterinary School's faculty and students.

    "MWDs are a critical piece of the USAF mission set, and the reality is that there are very few experts in their oral health worldwide,” said Arnason. We are grateful for the ability to forge relationships with those experts and to get training tailored for our MWD Airmen elevated our ability to diagnose and treat them when needed."

    As the partnership continues to flourish, plans are underway to expand the collaboration and explore innovative research avenues to further enhance the readiness and health of MWDs throughout the Air Force.

    “In the future, we look forward to this collaboration to allow our team to conduct applied research that can have a real-world impact on those working dogs,” said Soltero-Rivera. “By studying working dogs in various contexts, such as their performance, health, and well-being, we can contribute to developing improved veterinary dental care and overall maintenance and rehabilitation of the oral health of working dogs during training and after trauma.”

    The collaboration serves as an example of the power of community partnerships and their ability to drive significant positive change. The joint commitment helps to ensure the MWDs serving at Travis Air Force Base and beyond receive the dental care required to serve.



    Date Taken: 07.12.2023
    Date Posted: 07.12.2023 17:49
    Story ID: 449066

    Web Views: 208
    Downloads: 1