45th Security Forces Squadron unveils improved military working dog obedience yard

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Security Forces Squadron held a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil an upgraded military working dog obedience yard here May 11, 2016.

The event included a military working dog demonstration and featured Chiefs of Police and law enforcement K-9 officers from across Brevard County.

“What you see today is a result of a tremendous team effort to enhance military working dog readiness,” said Lt. Col. David Williams, 45th SFS commander. “This five-and-a-half month project not only transformed the look and the feel of our training area, it has made it virtually an all-weather training area that no longer needs groundskeeping.”

Williams said the canopy lowers the temperature 10 to 20 degrees and allows K-9 teams to train year-round while reducing the impact of rain, sun and heat on training operations.

“With the enhanced safety of our new layout, we expect fewer dog and handler injuries,” Williams said. “Not to mention the increased pride that come from working in this professional environment.”

Williams added that SFS Airmen hope to expand their efforts working with local law enforcement partners to share mutual knowledge and experience to better protect the citizens along the Space Coast. He pointed out that this upgraded training yard is a result of SFS kennel staff having the foresight to see a problem and find a solution.

“They conceived it, they designed it and they worked with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron and the 45th Contracting Squadron to execute it,” he said. “It is a testament to our willingness to listen to our folks in order to make things better.”

Williams ended his speech by thanking the entire SFS team and members in attendance, and expressed his gratitude to Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander.

“None of this would come to pass without your commitment to our personnel, both two-legged and four-legged,” he said. “Thank you for your support for our squadron, our mission, and your willingness to engage problems head on. Thank you for all of that you have done when it comes to the kennels and for all that you have done for all of our defenders.” 

The decision to help the defenders proved an easy one for the general.

 “We have a professional team, professional dogs and professional handlers, but we had a sub-standard yard for which they had to work -- not nearly as professional as they were,” he said.

Monteith added that base and local law enforcement teams now will be able to train more safely in the new yard.

"Quite frankly, this was the right thing to do to renovate and modernize our canine training facility, both to take care of our base population, but also so that we could partner with all the law enforcement municipalities," he said. "So it's a win for all of us."

Monteith said this training yard started with a dream and a vision.  He explained that two weeks after he took command he had the opportunity to spend an August afternoon with Senior Airman Frances Hopfer and her K-9 dog, Digo.

“Digo took me through his paces, showed me what being part of the wrong end of a military working dog team is like,” he said. 

While dressed in a heavy bite suit out in the sun and heat, the general looked around at the unacceptable conditions of the yard and how the summer heat only made it worse for the defenders and their dogs.  He said he decided right then and there to help fix the problem. 

“We are not going to have this situation again,” he said.

Monteith added that the upgraded facility, in the long run, saves money by reducing costs for maintenance and utilities, and improving safety for Airmen and their dogs.

“If you look around, it looks pretty darn good,” he said. “This is the best in the Air Force and it is going to stay the best in the Air Force because we had the right team building it. This facility now enables us to train safely and open up our facilities to our community partners on the Space Coast. It’s absolutely critically important that we have each other’s backs.”

The commander concluded the event by thanking the SFS defenders and law enforcement officers in attendance. 

“We can’t thank you enough for what you do every day,” he said. “I look forward to the partnerships that we are going to further enhance in the years to come.”