DVIDS – News – Animal Care Specialist Provides Valuable Training to Military Working Dog Handlers

SPANGDAHLEM, Germany – Army Corporal. Ricardo Blancarte, an animal care specialist assigned to Spangdahlem Army Veterinary Treatment Facility, works closely with the Air Force 52nd Fighter Wing working dog kennel handler military, tech. sergeant. Christopher Fitchett, to provide hands-on training opportunities for MWD handlers with the 52nd Fighter Wing Security Forces in Spangdahlem.

Blancarte, a Chicago native, decided to enlist in the U.S. Army at the same time as his younger brother who joined the Marine Corps in 2017. Blancarte had wanted to become a military police officer since he was a child, but when he started talking to the wife of his recruiter, a specialist in veterinary care, his plans took an unexpected turn.

“I graduated with an associate’s degree in criminology and thought I was certain of my career goals,” Blancarte said. “But my recruiter encouraged me to explore different opportunities, so I did.”

Blancarte finds value and satisfaction in life by helping others.

“I wanted to be a cop because I wanted to help other people,” Blancarte added. “I don’t care if it’s humans or animals as long as I’m doing good in the world and making a difference. I thought, why not try something else.

After much consideration, he enlisted in the military as an animal care specialist. When he arrived at his 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 work is very diverse, you never know what animal you are going to work with,” Blancarte said. “In San Antonio, we were responsible for the care of nonhuman primates, pigs, and rodents.”

Blancarte is currently the NCO in charge of the Spangdahlem VTF.

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

The primary mission of the Spangdahlem VTF is to provide military working dog care and food security.

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

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

“Most often handlers don’t receive any training in animal care, but in deployed locations they are the ones who provide crucial first aid to their injured dog until they are taken care of. by a veterinarian,” Blancarte said.

Blancarte frequently organizes training sessions to provide rescue techniques to groups of around ten handlers at a time. In trainings, handlers learn with a simulated dog dummy.

“As a veterinary technician, it is rewarding to know that handlers will go above and beyond to provide care for their dogs,” Blancarte said. “Seeing this camaraderie and the bond between handler and dog, Army and Air Force is satisfying.”

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

“Tina, an eight-year-old Belgian Shepherd, had spinal surgery at our VTF and needed night care,” Blancarte said. “I stayed with her and her handler for the night and the following days to show her how to correctly read her vital signs, change her dressings and provide post-operative care.”
Going forward, Blancarte and Fitchett are planning joint training events with host country partners.

“Early next year, we will be welcoming dog handlers from the Belgian and German military police, to exchange their expertise and knowledge on MWD care and training,” Blancarte said.

Date taken: 23.08.2022
Date posted: 23.08.2022 08:17
Story ID: 427832
Hometown: CHICAGO, IL, USA

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Benjamin M. Yerger