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Whiteman receives new vet and kennel

The new 509th Medical Group veterinary clinic neighbors the new 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog kennel, allowing smoother operations between the two facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)(RELEASED)

The new 509th Medical Group veterinary clinic neighbors the new 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog kennel, allowing smoother operations between the two facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)(RELEASED)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, checks for anything unusual such as redness or discharge inside the ears of Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. The new vet building being next door to the new kennel makes appointments such as this easier and more time-friendly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, checks for anything unusual such as redness or discharge inside the ears of Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. The new vet building being next door to the new kennel makes appointments such as this easier and more time-friendly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, checks the dental health of Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog. Bak was receiving a health certificate required by USDA before military working dogs travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, checks the dental health of Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog. Bak was receiving a health certificate required by USDA before military working dogs travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, tests Bak's joint and muscle condition at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011 to ensure he is in top shape prior to an upcoming secret service mission. Bak is a 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, tests Bak's joint and muscle condition at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011 to ensure he is in top shape prior to an upcoming secret service mission. Bak is a 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, prepares Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, for his health certificate appointment at the veterinarian clinic here June 17, 2011. Bak is preparing for an upcoming secret service mission and the certificate is USDA required prior to travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, prepares Bak, 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, for his health certificate appointment at the veterinarian clinic here June 17, 2011. Bak is preparing for an upcoming secret service mission and the certificate is USDA required prior to travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, prepares annual vaccinations for Ellie, Tech. Sgt. Dan Niemeyer's golden retriever, at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. The new vet building has multiple exam rooms allowing more military family pets and military working dogs to be seen on a daily basis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, prepares annual vaccinations for Ellie, Tech. Sgt. Dan Niemeyer's golden retriever, at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. The new vet building has multiple exam rooms allowing more military family pets and military working dogs to be seen on a daily basis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, inspects Ellie, golden retriever of Tech. Sgt. Dan Niemeyer, for anything affecting the dog's eyes at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

Joanne Kucker, 509th Medical Group veterinarian, inspects Ellie, golden retriever of Tech. Sgt. Dan Niemeyer, for anything affecting the dog's eyes at the vet clinic here June 17, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody H. Ramirez)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 509th Security Forces Squadron military working dog kennel and the 509th Medical Group veterinary clinic at this Air Force Global Strike Command base are now co-located in larger and more mission-efficient facilities.

The two old facilities, which were too small for operations and miles apart, have been replaced by neighboring buildings to provide easier access to medical care and handler training.

Dr. Joana Kuecker, 509th MDG veterinarian, said the old clinic was adequate for the initial veterinarian mission of providing small animal vaccinations and disease control, but was in poor shape and too small for establishing a growing practice.

The kennels were also in need of improvement. The building was outdated and didn't meet veterinarian health standards for the military working dogs, according to Tech Sgt. Robert Van Hulle, 509th SFS kennel master.

As Whiteman and its mission grew, so did that of the clinic and the need for a larger building. According to Sergeant Van Hulle, the buildings were under construction for a year and a half. Dr. Kuecker said the new facilities provide the necessities to support the military family pet along with the MWD mission.

The new veterinarian clinic has a large waiting area, three exam rooms, a laboratory and pharmacy area, two offices, a surgery room, a radiology room, a break room and a storage room. All compared to the previous clinic's small waiting area, one office and two exam rooms.

"We have an enormous amount of space to grow and as funding becomes available we will add the equipment necessary to meet the needs of the military working dogs and military families," Dr. Kuecker said. "In the course of the next few years, the building has the potential to offer surgical and dental procedures in addition to new diagnostics such as radiology."

Sergeant Van Hulle said the new kennel is twice the size of the previous and provides a training yard triple the size. He said the additions brought by the new building are great, but having the vet next door is the real improvement.

"The vet plays an important part to our mission when it comes to healthcare of our dogs," Sergeant Van Hulle said. "Being co-located cuts down the response time needed to assist in medical emergencies for the dogs."

Although the new buildings provide the convenience of location and room for growth, the veterinarian clinic's services remain the same at this time.

"It is important to note that the new facility is still not equipped to handle emergencies or serious medical conditions," Dr. Kuecker said. "We are able to provide general wellness examinations, minor sick calls and routine vaccinations. We are also an excellent source for obtaining heartworm and flea and tick preventative."

Dr. Kuecker said moving in takes time and they still lack some equipment to handle the new missions, but she said the new facility is a step in the right direction.

Directions to the clinic: entering from the LeMay Gate on Arnold Avenue, take the first right, the vet clinic is the first building on the right - building 1732. Summer business hours for the clinic are 8:30 a.m.-noon, Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, and 8:30-11 a.m., and 2-4 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information or directions, call the vet clinic at (660) 687-2667.