AFSFC Assessment Tool Improves Health and Readiness of Military Working Dogs > Air Force > Article Display

Recent renovations to the kennel facilities at the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron improve the living conditions and welfare of military working dogs at Hurlburt FieldFlorida.

The upgrades are the result of Kennel Health Assessment 2.0, Air Force Security Forces CenterThe online rating system that tracks and rates the condition of military working dog kennels throughout the Air Force. AFSFC, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Mission Support and Installation Centerlaunched the program in July 2020 with the goal of improving the health and well-being of military working dogs by upgrading existing facilities that house MWDs throughout their military enlistment.

“The KHA 2.0 software analyzes four main areas: administrative offices, kennel facilities, support areas and veterinary support,” said Tech. sergeant. Otho Nugent, Air Force MWD program manager and AFSFC special projects manager.

Taking into account more than 40 other criteria, “…results are used to categorize, prioritize, and advocate for renovations and improvements to facilities of the more than $116 million in working dog assets Air Force personnel,” Nugent said.

Data is shared with senior leaders and key decision makers who then make informed decisions on funding initiatives and projects related to MWD health and readiness.

The $650,000 renovation at Hurlburt Field, which included an overhang and the installation of dog turf, had an immediate positive impact on readiness.

“These alone have led to much needed improvements that provide a safer environment for working dogs and directly improve our training program,” said Master Sgt. Matthew Mascolo, MWD Trainer and Acting Kennel Master at 1st SOSFS. “The overhang protects the working dogs from the Florida heat, and the K9Grass that has been installed on the training ground helps protect them from danger.

“The training course was bare ground before the turf was installed,” Mascolo said. “The area attracted animals and insects that made their way to the kennels. This posed a threat to the health and welfare of our working dogs.

“Max, one of the MWDs, was bitten by a brown recluse in June 2019,” he said. “I found him, but at that time his leg was swollen. We took him to the veterinary clinic in Fort Benning, Georgia, but the vet gave him little chance of survival. Fortunately, Max recovered after a few months and was able to continue working as a vital member of the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Unit.

“Hurlburt Field is an example of how KHA 2.0 is at the heart of the preparation,” Nugent said. “We view military working dogs as sensitive, low-density, high-demand assets that require training, love, and attention to function at optimal levels. Their ability to accomplish what they have been tasked and trained to do is at the heart of preparation. It is our job to provide what our trained dogs and handlers need to perform at this extraordinary level.

Bette C. Alvarado