Date: June 12, 2014
Place: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Canine Training Site, Front Royal, VA
Interview: Megan Keyes, Veterinarian, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Meet Megan, who helps working dogs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. She tells you how start working with animals and why your dog's teeth need to be healthy.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
We get to work with dogs all day long.
This is Candy, so we’re just gonna do a physical on Candy. Candy is here so that we can get her back into our working dog program, which means that she’ll be a detector dog looking for any type of contraband [illegal goods], like narcotics [illegal drugs]. So, what makes that a little bit different from a pet dog is that, is that she has a little bit more, usually energy, excitement to work, excitement for toys.
Why do you check Candy’s teeth?
We check to make sure her gum color looks ok and we look at all of her teeth. The teeth can help make sure that they’re not developing tartar or gingivitis [swollen gums]. In working dogs, [we] really have to make, in all dogs, especially working dogs, you wanna make sure that they don’t have any dental disease. That can really inhibit [stop] them wanting to play with the toys, have bad breath, not eat well and be in pain.
How can you tell if your dog’s in pain?
They [the dogs] can’t speak to you and tell you where things hurt and what they’re feeling that day. Sometimes, a lot, they [dogs] don’t do anything, which can make it challenging to decide that they’re in pain, but sometimes it’s as simple as their work ethic [hard work] is. They don’t want to work as hard that day, which means that they may not want to play with the toy as excitedly as they normally do. They may not want to jump to, up and down off of things or jump high, or search high and low.
Advice for kids
To become a veterinarian, it takes a lot of hard work and school. You have to really apply yourself to all of your different courses, not just sciences or animal related courses.
But to develop the idea that they want to be a veterinarian, as much exposure [experience] as they can get to the veterinary field and that can come through volunteer work in veterinary clinics or even in rescues and shelters.