COPPERAS COVE — Fort Hood soldiers performed spay and neuter services Tuesday at Copperas Cove Animal Control, marking the beginning of a partnership between their Army unit and local animal control.
Soldiers from the 43rd Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support have inked partnerships with Copperas Cove and Killeen animal controls that will provide mutually beneficial training.
“The big winners are the animals,” said Stacie Sherva, manager of the Killeen Animal Control.
Until Tuesday, veterinary services had never been available at Copperas Cove Animal Control.
Soldiers set up mobile hospital areas and performed operations on six dogs, Capt. Nathan Carlton said.
Carlton said he sought out a partnership with the animal shelter because day-to-day veterinary training is not readily available on post.
The detachment can deploy at any moment, making building and staffing a permanent facility on post unfeasible and impossible to run, Carlton said. He soon realized animal shelters provided a good opportunity to continue the training of soldiers in the unit while giving back to the community.
“We don’t do veterinary medicine like a normal veterinary practice would do,” Carlton said. “We do Army stuff like maintaining our vehicles, going to the gun range and mapping. This allows us to practice one pillar of our veterinary mission.”
The unit will provide sterilization services in Copperas Cove once a month. In Killeen, soldiers will specialize in animal medicine, Capt. Brian Farr said.
Soldiers’ work there will include vaccinations, testing for parvovirus, minor wound treatment and physical examinations, Sherva said.
“It’s a cost savings,” she said. “If we had to purchase this, it would be a substantial cost.”
Soldiers will be at the Killeen facility once a week, and may possibly ramp up to twice a week. The unit hopes to be there as often as possible in order to rotate through the numerous members in 10-person rotations, Farr said.
“We are looking to obviously give back to the community, but we were also looking to work on medicine,” Farr said.
The Fort Hood unit specializes in animal medicine and public safety.
The unit’s members provide food inspections in the field and are trained in preventing the transmission of animal-borne diseases to humans.