JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) –
Recent renovations to the kennel facilities of the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron are improving the living conditions and wellbeing of military working dogs Hurlburt field, Florida.
The upgrades are the result of the Kennel Health Assessment 2.0, Center of the Air Force Security Forces‘s web-based scoring system that tracks and rates the condition of military working dog kennels across the Air Force. AFSFC, a primary subsidiary of the Air Force facility and mission support center, launched the program in July 2020 with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of military working dogs by upgrading existing facilities that house MWDs throughout their military enlistment.
“The KHA 2.0 software analyzes four main areas: administrative offices, kennel facilities, support areas, and veterinary support,” said Tech. Sgt.Otho Nugent, Air Force MWD Program Manager and Special Projects Director at AFSFC.
Taking into account more than 40 other criteria, “… the results will be used to categorize, prioritize, and advocate renovation and facility renovations and enhancements of the Air Force’s $ 116 million military working dog population,” said Nugent.
The data is shared with senior executives and key decision makers who then make informed decisions about funding initiatives and projects related to health and MWD readiness.
Hurlburt Field’s $ 650,000 renovation, which included an overhang and the installation of dog lawns, had an immediate positive impact on readiness.
“All of these resulted in much-needed improvements that provide a safer environment for the working dogs and directly improve our training program,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Mascolo, MWD trainer and interim kennel master at 1st SOSFS. “The overhang protects the working dogs from the Florida heat, and the K9Grass installed in the training yard protects them from danger.
“The training course was bare dirt before the lawn was laid,” says Mascolo. “The area attracted animals and insects that found their way into the kennels. This posed a threat to the health and welfare of our working dogs.
“Max, one of the MWDs, was bitten by a brown recluse in June 2019,” he said. “I found him, but at that point his leg was swollen. We took him to the veterinary clinic in Fort Benning, Georgia, but the vet gave him little chance of survival. Fortunately, Max recovered after a few months and was able to continue to work as an important member of the 1st Special Operations Security Forces unit. “
“Hurlburt Field is an example of how KHA 2.0 is at the center of readiness,” said Nugent. “We see military working dogs as sensitive, highly stressed, valuable assets that require training, love and attention in order to perform at their optimal level. Their ability to do what they have been hired and trained to do is at the heart of readiness. It is our job to give our dogs and experienced dog handlers what they need to work at this extraordinary level. “