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106th MD keeps furry friends fit to frolic

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, listens to the heartbeat of J.D., a jindo mix, during an outprocessing appointment at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 2, 2014. Capt. Ryan Mendenhall, 80th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, brought J.D. in for a microchip and a rabies vaccination as part of his permanent change of station from Kunsan AB, ROK, to Spangdahlem AB, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, listens to the heartbeat of J.D., a jindo mix, during an outprocessing appointment at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 2, 2014. Capt. Ryan Mendenhall, 80th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, brought J.D. in for a microchip and a rabies vaccination as part of his permanent change of station from Kunsan AB, ROK, to Spangdahlem AB, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, examines J.D., a jindo mix, during an outprocessing appointment at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 2, 2014. Kim, along with four animal health technicians and another veterinarian, manage the care for the pets of military personnel stationed at Osan and Kunsan AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, examines J.D., a jindo mix, during an outprocessing appointment at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 2, 2014. Kim, along with four animal health technicians and another veterinarian, manage the care for the pets of military personnel stationed at Osan and Kunsan AB, ROK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Chelsie Thompson, 106th Medical Detachment animal health technician, delivers anesthesia through the IV of Thor, a shih tzu, to prepare him for a minor operation at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Thor was neutered and given all necessary vaccinations like all cats and dogs housed at Osan’s Homeward Bound animal shelter. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Chelsie Thompson, 106th Medical Detachment animal health technician, delivers anesthesia through the IV of Thor, a shih tzu, to prepare him for a minor operation at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Thor was neutered and given all necessary vaccinations like all cats and dogs housed at Osan’s Homeward Bound animal shelter. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Michael Barkley, 106th Medical Detachment animal health technician, prepares Thor, a shih tzu, for minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Osan’s VTF provides wellness exams, spaying and neutering, laboratory tests and other services. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Michael Barkley, 106th Medical Detachment animal health technician, prepares Thor, a shih tzu, for minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Osan’s VTF provides wellness exams, spaying and neutering, laboratory tests and other services. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, sutures an incision on Thor, a shih tzu, during minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Kim has been a veterinarian for seven years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, sutures an incision on Thor, a shih tzu, during minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Kim has been a veterinarian for seven years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, performs minor surgery on Thor, a shih tzu, at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Kim neutered Thor and corrected a small hernia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, performs minor surgery on Thor, a shih tzu, at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Kim neutered Thor and corrected a small hernia. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, sutures an incision on Thor, a shih tzu, during minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Michael Barkley and Chelsie Thompson, 106th MD animal health technicians, monitored Thor’s vital signs and assisted Kim with the procedure. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th Medical Detachment veterinarian, sutures an incision on Thor, a shih tzu, during minor surgery at the Veterinary Treatment Facility on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 3, 2014. Michael Barkley and Chelsie Thompson, 106th MD animal health technicians, monitored Thor’s vital signs and assisted Kim with the procedure. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- One of only a few U.S. military animal clinics on the Korean peninsula, the 106th Medical Detachment cares for the pets of personnel across the entire U.S. Forces Korea area of responsibility.

Two veterinarians and two civilian animal health technicians handle everything from outprocessing examinations to tumor removals and other soft-tissue operations with the help of two U.S. Army animal health technicians they share with other veterinary treatment facilities in the area.

Dr. Kyongmi Kim, 106th MD veterinarian, said the primary mission of the Osan Veterinary Treatment Facility is to care for the base's military working dogs.

"They have a stressful life," Kim said. "They work in the heat and other conditions that animals aren't normally exposed to."

The clinic can also play a role in the event of a wartime contingency operation by helping facilitate infectious disease control and pet evacuations.

The majority of the team's workload is a little more conventional.

"We do wellness exams, routine vaccinations, laboratory tests, and skin and ear cytologies," said Michael Barkley, 106th MD animal health technician, who has worked at the VTF for nine months.

The staff sees between 10 and 25 patients a day, and conducts an average of three to four surgeries every week.

The clinic also works closely with Osan's Homeward Bound animal shelter - spaying, neutering and vaccinating the shelter's dogs and cats before they are fostered or adopted. Kim said she volunteered at an animal shelter when she worked in Seoul, and is thankful to be able to do similar work now.

"It feels good to know I can treat animals and help them," Kim said.

Barkley's desire to become an animal health technician may have sparked when he was just a boy in Florida, where his parents kept all sorts of animals - including chickens, cows and even peacocks.

"I grew up with a love for animals," Barkley said. "I'm a people person and I like my coworkers, but being able to help pets and keep them well and healthy is the best part of my job."

Barkley and Chelsie Thompson, 106th MD animal health technician, both have pets and children - something Thompson said enhances their patient care in a big way.

"Every animal is treated like they're our own," Thompson said. "They're a part of our family just like they're a part of yours."

Kim, who has been a veterinarian for seven years, said she owned a dog that lived to be 17 years old, and had a few health problems throughout his life. She said she hopes her expertise and experiences as a pet owner can help ease the stress of her patients' families.

"I wanted my dog to be in the hands of someone I could trust," Kim said. "Now, as a veterinarian, I am happy I can be that person for other people."