From working dogs to food inspections

first_imgSangster has one of the more diverse job assignments at Edwards. She cares for animals, both military and civilian, and she also as a hand in ensuring safety for humans. “Edwards is a great place to work,” Sangster said. “I get to do a little bit of everything.” Sangster’s primary mission is to care for the handful of working dogs that help keep the base secure, handle crime, and, occasionally, deploy overseas. Each dog gets a physical, head to toe, and once or twice a year each gets a dental exam. The dogs also get exams before and immediately after going overseas. “I really like working with the working dogs,” Sangster said. “Any time they get a scratch or a boo-boo, I look at them.” EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – Fresh out of veterinary school at Cornell University, Army Capt. Jodi Sangster was asked to rank her preferences for her first duty assignment. The list contained 25 bases. No. 1 was the Army’s Fort Irwin. Edwards Air Force Base was listed second. Sangster got Edwards, and she says it’s turned out to be a good assignment. “I wanted to go somewhere where I would be able to do real medicine,” Sangster said. “This is a full-service clinic. I can treat whatever walks through the door. As a new graduate, I wanted that experience.” Sgt. Justin Broderick, a dog trainer, said Sangster’s care of animals is highly regarded. “She’s great,” Broderick said. “I’ve been working with dogs for nine years, and she’s the best.” Sangster has had to deal with tough issues, including putting two dogs down for spinal injuries, Broderick said. “That’s probably the hardest thing she’s had to do,” Broderick said. “You have grown men crying because we get very attached to these dogs.” Sangster makes herself available night or day to care for the dogs, Broderick said. Another of her duties, which might surprise those outside the military, is food inspection – for humans. About one or two days in each month, she inspects companies in the Southern California and Nevada region that provide food for the military. “If it’s being sold to a military installation anywhere, it has to be inspected,” Sangster said. Food inspection is a long-standing practice for Army veterinarians. In the 1800s, Army vets inspected meat, poultry and dairy products destined for the frontier posts, according to a history of the Army Veterinary Service. Strong academic background in microbiology, epidemiology, pathology and public health has always made veterinarians ideally suited for a role in ensuring wholesomeness of food, according to the history. “We’re so entrenched in it that it won’t make sense to turn it over to anyone else,” Sangster said. The Air Force has other personnel who handle on-base food inspections, but Sangster does inspections for the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, about an hour’s drive north of Edwards. Occasionally, Sangster has to fill in for a base that is between vets. Last summer she spent quite a bit of time going out to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, in San Bernardino County, and currently she is providing veterinary service for Vandenberg Air Force Base on coastal central California. “I do a lot of driving,” Sangster said. When time permits, she opens the clinic on base. For pet owners, the clinic is very inexpensive. For example, if Sangster examines an animal and tests are required or medicine given, she charges nothing. If a vaccine is given, the pet owner only pays for the vaccine. The downside is that the pet clinic is open only when Sangster’s other duties permit. Sometimes that can be a couple of times a week, sometimes much less. “It’s a trade-off,” Sangster said. “We are very inexpensive, but sometimes we’re not available.” A large part of her work with the base’s pet population involves providing health certificates to allow an animal to relocate to another country when the owner is assigned overseas. A number of countries have very strict requirements for allowing animals in, Sangster said. Sangster said her decision to be a vet is typical of most vets. “When I was little, I liked animals. That spiraled into being a veterinarian,” she said. “Like most veterinarians, we decide when we’re six we want to be a vet.” An Army scholarship program paid for three of her four years of veterinary school – an investment Sangster estimates at about $100,000. In exchange, Sangster made a three-year commitment to the Army. She is in the last year of her original three-year commitment but has opted to extend for three more years. Some time later this year she’ll be heading off to Germany for her next assignment. Although she now works at a base known for being on the cutting edge of aerospace technology, Sangster said she really isn’t much of an airplane buff. “I like looking up and seeing something different,” she said, “but I think I’m a disgrace because I don’t known anything about them.” [email protected] (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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