INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
While Incirlik Air Base may be
coded as a ‘No Pet’ base for permanent party and deployed personnel, due to
operational conditions, the base is not animal free. Stray cats and dogs can
frequently be seen roaming around the installation.
The care for stray animals is
limited in Turkey and most animals are not vaccinated, spayed or neutered.
Incirlik AB has a stray animal facility, where animals are only held for a
short time until they can be reunited with their owners or relocated off of the
Providing quality care for
stray animals, particularly injured ones, remains a challenge.
In Jan., 2018, the veterinary treatment
facility received several calls from concerned service members regarding a
wounded dog. The callers indicated that the animal was laying on its side and
bleeding from the leg.
Injuries acquired when an
animal is hit by a car are unfortunately common in veterinary medicine and the
veterinary team expected the worst.
After arriving on the scene
and performing the initial assessment however, the patient was stable and even
wagging her tail despite a painful, swollen leg.
To better assess the extent of
the dog’s injury, the veterinary team brought her back to the vet office and sedated
her so that they could conduct a thorough exam.
The team was lucky that she
had a calm temperament even without sedation, as handling injured animals
greatly increases the risk of a bite, with the potential to contract rabies.
Her swollen, right, rear leg was shaved, allowing the veterinarian to clearly
see three open wounds.
Laboratory testing of the material
draining from the wounds showed evidence of infection, and in addition, some of
the material was sent to the U.S. Army veterinary lab in Germany to see what
type of bacteria was responsible for the infection.
The only way to determine whether
there were any broken bones was to take an X-ray, fortunately there were no
broken bones. Unfortunately, there were multiple gunshot wounds, likely from a
small caliber ballistic projectile such as a BB gun.
The veterinary team decided to
admit the dog for treatment, ‘Bebe’ was the name that ultimately stuck.
Bebe received daily medications
to treat the infection and keep her comfortable and the team performed frequent
bandage changes. There were a few challenges along the way, especially teaching
her how to walk on a leash so that she could be brought outside for exercise
and to use the bathroom.
After ten days of care, Bebe
was turned over to the Base Stray Facility with the aim of having her adopted
by a Turkish family, as base regulations do not permit service members to adopt
animals, due to operational concerns.
Bebe’s case allowed the
veterinary team to conduct public health surveillance, to make sure there are
no diseases on the installation that can be transmitted from animals to people.
The results from the veterinary lab in Germany identified that the wound was
only infected with bacteria from the skin and mouth, a result of Bebe licking
at her wounds, which is not something that is of concern to human health.
Likewise, keeping Bebe for ten days, completed a quarantine for rabies which is
not uncommon to the stray dog population in the surrounding area.
As an additional benefit, treating
Bebe promoted the team’s readiness to care for the Military Working Dogs
assigned to Incirlik Air Base, should they face a similar injury.
Above all, caring for animals in
need gets at what it means to be a veterinarian, namely promoting animal health
and welfare, relieving animal suffering and protecting the health of the
The veterinary team could not
have managed the case on their own, without the help of the 39th Medical Group as
they were integral in submitting the sample to the veterinary lab in Germany,
particularly on short notice. Members of the 39th Civil Engineer Fire
Department and 39th Security Forces helped to direct the veterinary team to
Bebe and get her loaded for casualty evacuation.
Most of all, the personnel who
called the clinic to alert them of the injured dog were integral in getting her
the care she needed in a timely manner as she could not have survived her
Individuals looking to report
an animal welfare issue, contact the VTF at 676-3119 during duty hours, or
549-821-4294 after hours.