WHY WE SUPPORT SERVICE DOGS, THE POLICE AND MILITARY COMMUNITY
Words from our veterinarian, Dr. Andrea HowardToday I wanted to put into words the reasons and life experiences that leaded us to start this veterinary hospital and our unconditional support to service dogs, their handlers, the military, police and community in general.
As the daughter of a police officer and wife of an Air Force officer I was always fascinated and grateful for all law-enforcement, and military and what they do for us to keep us safe.On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was pregnant (almost to term) with our first daughter Cynthia. I heard on the radio something unthinkable, the horrific news that civilian aircraft had crashed into the World Trade Center(s) and the Pentagon. As I turned on the TV, I watched people jumping from burning buildings, then to my horror the towers collapsed.
I was overcome by anger and fear and I wished I could do something to help. I realized our freedom was under attack. I felt great pride for my husband and the US military. I was ready to join the Army as a Veterinarian, however at that time I was the mother of a newborn baby, wife of an active duty Air Force husband, and we moved every three years, therefore, I would have to find another way to support those that serve our communities and protect our freedoms.I thought that as a veterinarian I could make a difference. I joined as a civilian caring for military family pets and MWD (military working dogs) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama and later, Dyess AFB, Texas.
I was fortunate to work with a few handlers and their MWD as they were busy getting ready for deployment to Afghanistan. During this time, I had gotten familiar with the history of the Military Working Dogs and how they protected our troops during all wars and conflicts.
In Vietnam, 4,900 dogs where used between 1964 and 1975 and It is estimated that the dogs and handlers saved over 10,000 lives. Only 204 MWD returned home during the 10-year war. So, what happened to the dogs that remained? Most were euthanized, and the others where turned over to the ARVN (South Vietnamese Army). When their tour ended (after a year), they had to turn the dog over to a new handler as they boarded a plane back to the United States. The dog they trained and fought with would have their bond broken as one handler headed home and another arrived to take his place. I think about the handlers never seeing their companion dogs again, and later finding out they were left behind, and it’s hard to hold back my tears. Now, my husband has retired from the Air Force and we decided to settle in the beautiful State of Utah and open a veterinary practice of our own. So, the hospital is more than just a hospital, we want to continue to make a difference for those who support and serve our communities, and you guessed it, the beloved MWD. We started a Free Medical Program for Hero Dogs where two retired military or police working dogs per year will have all in-hospital services free of charge. Moreover, we are blessed with veterinary technicians and assistants that share the same love and respect for our MWD heroes and are eager to help in anyway they can. We want to show our support by offering discounted hospital services for military and law-enforcement family owned pets. It is our small way of saying, “Thank You for keeping us safe in our communities and protecting our Freedoms.”