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Keeping our canine protectors safe

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Marasky
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
The protective gas mask used in local operational response exercises like Beverly High 08-4 is very effective in a chemical environment for most Team Kadena members, but its design leaves some unprotected.

One group at the 18th Security Forces is preparing in a different way to handle the possibility of chemical attacks.

The military working dog element has to deal with the unique situation of protecting their canine counterparts from potential chemical attacks without being able to use many of the countermeasures the wing has prepared for humans. The element takes a number of precautions for their canines.

"If there's a MOPP level called, we stay indoors until the all clear is given," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Branch, 18th SFS dog handler. "Once the threat has passed we'll come out and conduct our sweeps.

"We also seal up the kennels, fence, and windows," said Sergeant Branch. "Once we seal up the building, one of us will stay with the dogs and monitor them."

Real life often proves unpredictable, and the members of the element have a plan for the event that they get caught outside during an attack.

"Any time we get attacked, my first action will be to get in cover," said Sergeant Branch. "Once I get in a building, I'll wash him [the dog] down as much as I can. Then I'll check his vitals and check his eyes."

The type of soap and water used are important factors within the chemical environment, and in some cases, exposure may call for more extreme measures.

"Depending on the type and severity of the chemical, it's possible that the dog may need to be shaved," said Tech. Sgt. Steve Montez, 18th SFS kennel master. "Normally though, we'll just wash them down with anti-bacterial soap, and make sure we get their fur and pads extra clean."

With each exercise, Team Kadena practices keeping its members safe and healthy during any type of contingency, even the ones with four legs.