By Griffin Swartzell | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Military working dogs and their handlers on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, will soon operate out of improved facilities. Construction of a new security forces kennel, located near the baseball fields, is set to begin in late November.
Master Sgt. Derek Copeland, 21st Security Forces Squadron kennel master, said that this new facility has been in the works for six years. When it’s finished — tentatively scheduled for December of 2020 — it will replace a facility that has housed Peterson’s military working dogs since around 1981.
“It’s an old building that we have right now,” said Copeland. “This upgrade will increase the quality of life for the dogs.”
While the current kennel facility was built to specifications when it was initially constructed, new technology and building standards have made it possible to give these working dogs more comfort in their downtime. The new kennels will have a variety of amenities and considerations. They’ll be staggered and have solid walls so the dogs are separate from one another. Each kennel will also include a concrete dog house to give the dogs somewhere dark to rest. They’ll also have more temperature control than the current facilities, with under-floor heating and air conditioning.
“These dogs work out in the elements during the summer, so if we make it too cool back there, they don’t get acclimated properly,” said Copeland. “Typically, we run the kennel within 10 degrees of the operating environment, so that way, they can become properly acclimated.”
The new facility will also be better for the SFS mission and maintaining staffing uptime, both for Airmen and dogs alike. It will include a full veterinary suite for treating dogs on-site when it’s impractical or non-viable for them to be transported to Fort Carson, Colorado. It will also include expanded office space for SFS Airmen, as well as larger conference and handler rooms, and more equipment storage. Additionally, features like a kitchen, a shower and laundry facilities will allow Airmen to operate 24 hours if needed.
“We don’t classify it as us getting an upgrade because we’ll work out of anything,” said Copeland. “It’s more about the dogs. They’re the ones working more than we are. So giving them a better quality of life when they’re on their downtime is the end goal.”