AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
The 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pest management team collaborated with other 380th ECES flights, the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group and the veterinary staff at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, on an initiative to Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return wild cats at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 20 – 21, 2019.
The wild cats live amongst the population, eating rats and other pests – making them a big part of the ecosystem at ADAB and contributors to improving the standard of living.
“In my eyes, the main objective of the TNVR was to make sure the cats are safe to the general public, since some of the cats are known to be close to our troops in ADAB,” said Tech. Sgt. Terence Park, 380th ECES journeyman. “By making sure the cats we caught and treated have their own territory in ADAB we will ensure continued assurance that only the vaccinated cats are around our base.”
The pest management Airmen searched the installation for as many wild cats as they could find and brought them in to be treated – a benefit to the cats and the rest of the ADAB population.
“Stray animals can carry diseases that can be spread to humans” said Army Capt. Theresa Hubbell, Veterinary officer in charge at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. “By vaccinating and deworming the stray population, it protects the health and welfare of every person on base.”
“Rabies is the biggest threat that we mitigate through these clinics,” said Hubbell who is responsible for caring for the military working dogs (MWDs) and controlling the stray animal population within the Area of Responsibility. “Unlike in the United States, in this part of the world dogs and cats commonly carry Rabies, which is a deadly neurologic disease that cannot be cured once clinical signs begin to show. It is transmitted through saliva of infected animals, and kills on average 60,000 people a year, or one every 10 minutes. This is why General Order 1C says not to pet, water, feed stray animals or make them into mascots. U.S. Soldiers have died from Rabies within the last ten years. This is also why if you ever do get bit or scratched by a stray animal you should immediately seek medical treatment from your provider.”
With these wild felines being naturally territorial, they each have their own roaming regions where they have learned to survive, whether that’s hunting for food, or casting away other cats.
“Once they establish their area, they will fight to keep it,” said Master Sgt. Robert Rzasa, 380th ECES NCO in charge of pest management. “An animal that is spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and returned to their area, will ensure no new untreated cats will enter.”
The team made certain that once the now health-ensured cats were ready to be released, that it was back to their home grounds to maintain the final step of the TNVR plan.
“Research shows that the best way to keep people from getting sick [from stray animals] is not to euthanize all of the stray animals in the area, but to have regular TNVR clinics that maintain the health of the animals,” said Hubbell. “These healthy animals will live longer, not reproduce, and through their natural roaming tendencies will keep unhealthy animals from coming onto post. They also help control the rodent population, which is an additional help.”
From the other 380th ECES shops involved in building the temporary clinic, to the 380th EMDG staff members assisting in the medical procedures, these ADAB members were all hands on deck to ensure this operation was a complete success.
“Public Health assisted in coordinating with Capt. Hubble as well as arranged for the 380th EMDG to get hands on training,” said Staff Sgt. Caitlin Mitchell, 380th ECES pest management journeyman. “They also helped us scout locations to house the cats and clinic. The 380th ECES was heavily involved in the set up and teardown of the tent. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning assisted by providing an Environmental Control Unit, Power Pro provided and maintained the 24-hour generator. Electrical provided power and installed lighting for the surgical area.”
“This was a great team effort,” Park said. “It felt great to see different groups come together for a single goal. Everyone's a winner!”
Through the power of teamwork, the Airmen and Soldiers from ADAB and Camp Arifjan, came together to benefit the quality of life for all service members, and even the wild animals.
“Any time we can join forces for a common cause, especially one as important as this, is a huge plus for ADAB,” Rzasa said.