During the Vietnam War, American soldiers relied on working military dogs for a variety of crucial tasks. They could alert a soldier to an enemy presence or detect explosives, trip-wires and landmines. It is estimated that 10,000 lives were saved by more than 4,000 military working dogs in Vietnam.
These hard-working military war dog required specialty care, and soldiers who were trained veterinarians were the ones to offer it. Vietnam veterinarians provided everything from emergency care to everyday exams and treatment of disease and heat exhaustion. Veterinarian care was essential to keep both soldiers and animals healthy.
Military dogs were not the only animals cared for by Vietnam veterinarians. They often cared for sick animals like unit mascot dogs and adopted pets.
Vietnam veterinarians also participated in a civic project that provided care for animals that belonged to the local Vietnamese people. Captain Harold Lupton, a military veterinarian with the 175th Veterinary Detachment, recalled patching up an injured water buffalo that belonged to a local villager. “First they’ll bring in a dog for treatment. If that goes all right, they’ll bring in their pig. Last week we had a guy in here with 25 chickens to be examined,” Lupton said. Vietnam veterinarians set up hospitals and clinics in locations across Vietnam.
Vietnam veterinarians earned praise and commendations for their exemplary work in Vietnam.
We salute the veterinarians who worked hard to care for our working military dogs and other animals.
Did you or a relative have an experience with a veterinarian in Vietnam? If you would like to learn more about veterinarian care during the Vietnam War, search our archives at Fold3.com!