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Teams protect hundreds of military working dogs from weather in Texas

By Lori A. Bultman | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Feb. 18, 2021

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

The Warhawk Nation came together to protect their own Feb. 13, transporting 804 military working dogs indoors in preparation for severe winter weather in the Alamo Region.  

The dogs, members of the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron, were well taken care of during their time indoors, ensuring their safety and well-being during the harsh conditions.  

The week was anything but normal for the hard-working dogs. 

“The military working dogs and the Transportation Security Administration working dogs are normally housed in outdoor kennel runs on both JBSA-Lackland and at JBSA-Chapman Training Annex,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Kowalski, squadron commander. “The 341st TRS has the capacity of housing more than 1,200 dogs in our facilities.” 

The unit is also supported by the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, through the Holland Military Working Dog Veterinary Hospital on JBSA-Lackland and a veterinary clinic located with the dogs on JBSA-Chapman Training Annex, he said.  

The dogs located at Joint Base San Antonio have a wide variety of jobs.  

“In the Department of Defense, military working dogs are used for substance detection, explosives or narcotics, as well as law enforcement functions such as patrol, suspect apprehension and search and officer protection,” Kowalski said. “In the Transportation Security Administration, they are used to detect explosives at our country’s airports, seaports, train stations and package delivery locations all over the United States.” 

To protect the dogs during the extreme weather, members of the 341st TRS came together with their mission partners, active-duty military members, students and civilians to move the dogs from their outdoor kennel runs into warm buildings in the squadron’s training area. The team put together crates, moved food, set up walking tracks and provided food and drinks in order to get the four-legged warriors indoors in anticipation of this week’s cold conditions, Kowalski said. 

“We brought the dogs in once the temperatures dipped below freezing,” he said. “At that point, their water bowls would be frozen, and our ability to clean their kennels would be decreased and unsafe.” 

Once all the dogs were moved, the job was not over.  

Throughout the week, each dog was taken out of its crate for walks and bathroom breaks every four hours, or as needed, Kowalski said.   

“We have canine handlers on shift 24-hours-a-day keeping the dogs happy, warm and fed,” he said.  

The operation will continue until it is safe to move the canines back to their outdoor kennels.  

“We plan to move the dogs back to the normal kennel configuration once the temperatures are over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and our teams can sanitize and disinfect the kennels to receive the dogs,” Kowalski said.  “We plan on this movement happening over the coming weekend if the weather is good.” 

Kowalski is thankful for all the volunteers who supported their mission. 

“As the commander of the 341st TRS, and on behalf of our mission partners at TSA and the U.S. Army Veterinarians, I want to thank all those volunteers, fosters, and the military working dog supporters who have brought food, donated towels and blankets, or have donated funds to our charity organizations.  We thank you for all your support during this emergency operation and your continued support of the TSA and Department of Defense working dog programs.” 

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