Investigation of Tail Injury at Lackland Air Force Base Training Kennels for Military Working Dogs
Tail injuries are time and cost consuming to manage medically. On average it costs $232.90 a month to feed one MWD using the standard formula of food. If a specialty diet is needed, that cost can increase to $527.49 a month for one MWD. On average, it costs $101.19 - $103.01 for 10-day treatment for one MWD tail injury. Tail bandages are routinely changed every other day unless soiled, chewed, or missing, in this case, daily changes increases the cost. When an MWD is taken out of training or operational work for surgical amputation of the tail as a result of non-healing or repeated tail injury, this cost rises even more. Estimated cost of one surgical tail amputation procedure is $800.00. Between the years of 2012 and 2016 there were a total of 52 surgical tail amputation performed, approximately 13 per year. Between 22 Feb 2018 and 7 Sept 2018 there was a total of 12 tail amputations performed. In addition to removing the Military Working Dogs (MWDs) from operational work or training, tail injuries may be an indication of poor kennel welfare or may be due to genetics. The overall aim of the present study was to first carry out a retrospective study to identify demographic factors associated to a group of MWDs that presented with tail injury between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2016 to the LTC Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital located at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. These factors include the incidence, or risk and outcomes such as tail injury associated with procurement category (Breeding Program or purpose-bred and Vendor purchased) in MWDs housed in the training kennels located at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. Demographic data were collected to accurately identify the subject. This data included MWD name, tattoo or control number, sex, breed, and assigned training course. The sole purpose of collecting the name and tattoo or control number was to ensure positive identification of the dog. Secondly, a prospective clinical study collected the data from MWDs presenting with tail injury to the LTC Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital Medicine Clinic from 22 February 2018 through 7 September 2018. The tail injury data was analyzed with respect to stage of training: pre-training, initial or training aid population and kennel run location. The results of the retrospective study suggest there is a significant correlation between purpose-bred dogs, sex and breed with increased occurrence of tail injury. Results also suggest kennel run location does not correlate with increased occurrence of tail injury. The results of the prospective study suggest there is significant correlation between purpose-bred dogs and stage of training and tail injury. Results also suggest kennel run location does not correlate with increased occurrence of tail injury. Findings from the present study are intended to be used to guide future management to help prevent tail injury, and therefore, reduce treatment time, reoccurrence rates, costs, and to improve overall health and welfare of military and working dog populations. The outcomes of this study can potentially affect the entire United States MWD population, in addition to other types of kenneled dogs, such as shelter and research dogs.