SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- U.S. Army veterinarians, technicians, and volunteers with non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vets, partnered with Dominican Republic (D.R.) military members and veterinarians to perform surgeries, vaccinations, treatment and training, Aug. 15-21, during Continuing Promise 2015.
The veterinary team collaborated with the Ministry of Health and the Humane Society of the Dominican Republic to conduct veterinary civil affairs programs (VETCAPs) for local residents at Hospital Clinico Veterinario and multiple locations throughout Santo Domingo, which were selected based on their need for vaccination assistance.
"Being at the local clinic where we can interact with pet owners and their animals, allows us a chance to get immediate feedback and see how our work impacts the people of the Dominican Republic," said U.S. Army Capt. Emily Corbin, a veterinarian assigned to Public Health Command District Fort Meade, Maryland.
During the VETCAPs, vets worked closely with local NGOs to provide in-depth training on surgical procedures, preventative medicine and vaccinations, helping strengthen working relationships between the U.S. and the D.R.
"The vet team was a tremendous help to our veterinarians," said Patricia Valerio, chief veterinary epidemiologist at the Dominican Republic National Anti-rabies Center. "The skills they shared with us are greatly appreciated by everyone. The staff and students were able get more hands-on training with canine surgeries and examinations."
Medications and supplies were donated to the clinic, and more than 30 surgeries were performed side-by-side with local veterinarian staff, allowing both groups to sharpen their skills while treating animals in the community.
"I enjoyed having the team working alongside us, because every procedure was used as an opportunity to teach each other," said Valerio. "They were willing to help as many animals as they could while here in Santo Domingo."
The team also facilitated behavioral training with D.R. military working dogs at Unidad Canina de Operaciones Especial de la Policia Nacional, and Escuela Regional de Entrenamiento. Lessons on diet, nutrition and first aid were presented to help handlers keep their working dogs in top form; something Corbin said she believes will make a difference even after the mission.
"Seeing how the Dominican handlers operated at their facilities helped us identify what techniques could be adapted to fit their specific environment, and that sense of collaboration is really how we strengthen the working relationship in each country we visit," she added.
Comfort's veterinary team has conducted VETCAPs in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica and the Dominican Republic. More are planned to take place at the final mission stops in Haiti and Honduras.
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support, and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/ .