A partnership between the City of Copperas Cove Animal Control Facility and a Fort Hood veterinary unit has saved the city an estimated $12,000.

Soldiers from the 43rd Medical Detachment, 1st Medical Brigade, spay and neuter 10 to 15 animals at the city’s animal shelter every month. Cove is the only city shelter for which the unit performs the service.

David Wellington, animal control facility supervisor, said the partnership is great because the soldiers get few opportunities to work on animals in a clinical setting.

“Their service helps us get the animals adopted. People are more excited to get animals when they are ‘fixed’ already,” Wellington said. “That means more homes for these dogs.”

The military team spayed and neutered 11 dogs on Dec. 18. The city was not charged for the surgeries, which gave soldiers the opportunity to gain job experience, said Capt. Kimberly Fox, a team veterinarian.

“It’s good to get their hands on patients. Besides being veterinarians, it’s good to get out into the field and function like we would downrange where it is no longer training and they have to know how to place a catheter and be comfortable,” Fox said. “You also develop trust with your technician and cross-training with your food inspectors.”

Spc. Betley Martin, a food inspector, never expected to be working with animals when he signed up to serve in the Army a year ago.

“It’s great that we get to do cross-training and can learn both jobs,” said Martin, 25. “It’s a little more interesting than what I usually get to do. When I was helping with my first surgeries, I thought ‘My recruiter never told me about this. I am a food inspector.’”

The detachment is a deployable veterinary unit that functions as a stand-alone clinic.

Each team is doctrinally seven people including a veterinarian, technician, and five food inspectors.

“Each team provides veterinary support to 50 working dogs on Fort Hood and inspects food for 20,000 soldiers,” said Capt. Craig Calkins, one of the team veterinarians. “It’s important for us to come out into the field and practice in an environment like we would actually be in.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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