DVIDS – News – Animal care specialist provides valuable training to military dog ​​handlers

SPANGDAHLEM, Germany – Army Cpl. Ricardo Blancarte, an animal care specialist assigned to the Spangdahlem Army Veterinary Treatment Facility, works closely with Tech, the master of the Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing military kennel. Sgt. Christopher Fitchett with the 52nd Fighter Wing Security Forces at Spangdahlem to provide training opportunities to MWD handlers.

Blankarte, a native of Chicago, decided to join the U.S. Army in 2017 at the same time as his younger brother, who joined the Marine Corps. Blancarte wanted to be a military policeman since childhood, but his plans took an unexpected turn when he started talking to the recruiter’s wife, a veterinary specialist.

“I got an associate degree in criminology and thought I was sure about my career goals,” Blancarte said. “But my employer encouraged me to explore different opportunities, so I did.”

Blancarte finds value and satisfaction in life by helping others.

“I wanted to be a police officer because I wanted to help others,” Blancarte said. “I don’t care if it’s a person or an animal as long as I’m doing good and making a difference in the world. I thought why not try something else?

After much thought, she enlists in the Army as an animal care specialist. Upon arrival at the first duty station in San Antonio, TX. In March 2018, he had the opportunity to work with exotic animals alongside Air Force and Navy personnel.

“This job is so varied, you never know what animal you’re going to be working with,” Blancarte said. “In San Antonio, we cared for non-human primates, pigs and rodents.”

Blancarte currently serves as the NCO in charge at the Spangdahlem VTF.

“My duties and responsibilities may not be very different from my duties in Texas, but this time,” Blancarte said. “I take care of military working dogs, which is really cool.”

The main mission of Spangdahlem VTF is to ensure the care and food safety of military working dogs.

“I work closely with the Air Force kennel master and train the dog handlers as much as possible,” Blancarte said. “Whether it’s in a formal training environment or when they’re seen at VTF with their military working dogs.”

In hands-on training, he learns how to read vital signs, treat distress, heat victims, and draw blood in an MWD, which is vital to the health of MWDs.

“Often, dog handlers have no animal care training, but when deployed, they are critical first aid providers to injured dogs until they are under the care of a veterinarian,” Blancarte said.

Blancarte conducts frequent training sessions to provide life-saving skills to groups of ten dog handlers. In training, handlers learn with a simulated dog dummy.

“As a vet technician, it’s nice to know that the handlers will go above and beyond to take care of their dogs,” Blancarte said. “It’s rewarding for the Army and Air Force to see that camaraderie and bond between handler and dog.”

Recently, Blancarte took the opportunity to teach a valuable lesson to a new MWD handler after his dog underwent surgery.

“Tina, an eight-year-old Belgian shepherd, underwent spinal surgery at our VTF and required overnight care,” said Blancarte. “I stayed with her and her handler overnight and for the next few days to show her how to properly read her vital signs, change her dressings and provide post-operative care.”
In the future, Blancarte and Fitchett plan to conduct joint training events with their host country partners.

“Early next year, we are hosting Belgian and German military police handlers and their dogs to share experience and knowledge on MWD care and training,” Blancarte said.

Purchase date: 23.08.2022
Posted Date: 23.08.2022 08:17
Story ID: 427832
Location: SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, RP, DE
Homeland: Chicago, IL, USA

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