VIRGINIA BEACH -- Man's best friend is getting medical help from the U.S. military in Latin America.
The Army sent a group of veterinarians aboard the Virginia Beach-based USNS Spearhead as part of Operation Continuing Promise, which focuses on providing free medical care to local populations.
During the ship's first stop, in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, veterinarians removed cancerous growths, provided rabies vaccinations and spayed and neutered dozens of cats and dogs over eight days earlier this month in a makeshift facility at a local school. They also treated a rabbit and some horses.
"We're here to help the countries and we're here to build their capacity and help them with the needs that they have in their animal population," said Maj. Richard Brooksby, the lead veterinarian on the mission. "A lot of that is disease control with rabies vaccination, the deworming and then also the sterilization of some animals. So we're here to work with them to accomplish their goals, and the value added back to us isn't necessarily as much as hopefully we're giving to them."
The veterinarians also are expected to treat some livestock during the Spearhead's next stop in Guatemala. The team then will treat small animals in Colombia before returning to Virginia.
"They do have canine rabies in all three of these countries we're going to. Rabies is transmitted from canine to canine, and if those dogs bite humans, that also could be lethal," Brooksby said.
Operation Continuing Promise ends in May.
This article is written by Brock Vergakis from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.