U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge
U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge

Exercise offers veterinary outreach to community in Palau

by Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge
128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

KOROR, Republic of Palau -- Palauans of the of the four-legged variety are receiving some special attention during a four-day veterinarian health outreach program that started April 15, 2019 in Koror, Palau. U.S. Army veterinarians and the Palau Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) teamed up to offer routine animal care including vaccinations, spays and neutering as a part of Exercise Palau.

Exercise Palau is part of Pacific Pathways, an annual U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) operation, demonstrating the U.S. Army's commitment to the Palau nation, and security cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

"Not only will we be doing the routine spays and neuters, but we will be doing surgeries on animals that need it, and any other sick pets that need treatment," said Capt. Shareen Burton, a veterinarian with the 445th Civil Affairs Battalion.

The veterinarian outreach clinic will help satisfy the high need of animal health care throughout the island country.

"Unfortunately, there is no veterinarian on the island, so the need for veterinarian care - whether it is vaccines, or sick pet exams, or surgeries - is very valuable here," said Burton.

The high need for animal care has caused a large response from the community.

"We are overwhelmed," said Lori Colin, founder and volunteer for PAWS. "We have a wait list. I think the vets could work ten days here easily."

Burton agreed, "Unfortunately it is only four days, but it is an action-packed four days. We are trying to see as many pets as we can."

Burton also said that she will be recommending that on future Army missions to Palau, the veterinarian health care clinics should last longer to help satisfy the need of the community and to get the most out of the medical training for the Army.

Although the clinic is only four days, the participants hope to leave a legacy of their service. Burton said that the spaying and neutering that is done will help prevent overpopulation of animals on the island and the other medical care will aid the pets and their families. The team of Army veterinarians will also be leaving behind medications when they leave the country to help local animals after they are gone.

Photo Caption:
Sgt. 1st Class Aldolfo De Leon, with the 405th Civil Affairs Battalion, prepares a kitten for surgery to be spayed at a veterinarian outreach program at the Palau Animal Welfare Society(PAWS) April 15, 2019 in Koror, Palau during Exercise Palau. U.S. Army veterinarians and PAWS have partnered to aid the community in providing basic animal health care for pets. Exercise Palau is sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific and hosted by the nation of Palau, and contributes to and strengthens the U.S. and Palau relationships, to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The exercise will run from the 13th - 19th, and will include several security cooperation training events as well as community and animal health outreach services at several sites including Koror, Peleliu and Angaur.

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