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New military working dog facility built to highest 'green' standard

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jasmine Reif
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog section here officially opened the first "green" kennel in the Defense Department May 20.

The $1.6 million project included artificial turf, green construction techniques, a rain water collector and solar panels.

"The artificial turf won't need to be watered, and unlike the turf on a mini-golf course, this grass is a mesh of fibers that have a realistic look and feel," said 1st Lt. Christopher Warshaw, the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron energy projects manager. "The MWDs and the trainers will feel like they are on real grass. On the turf there is also a rain water collector, which will collect rainwater for irrigation use at other base locations."

In addition to the environmental benefits, the artificial turf will also benefit the dogs.

"The artificial turf allows us to train year round," said Tech Sgt. John Pillarella, the 56th SFS kennel master. "The hot Arizona sun always burns the grass, making it sharp and brittle for our dogs' paws. Our new obedience yard can be sprayed with water and it's ready for use. Also, the sunshades make it 10 to 15 degrees cooler, which is very important during the summer months."

Luke Air Force Base MWD handlers said they are excited to use the new facility.

"It's a standard to which all other kennels should be built in the entire Defense Department," Sergeant Pillarella said. "In fact, people from four other bases have contacted me about acquiring the same construction for their kennels. The new green kennels will use less water and the field won't require maintenance, meaning no riding lawn mowers producing green house gases."

The significant improvements made to the kennels will not only improve morale, but will improve mission accomplishment.

"Now, we will have a storage room for our equipment instead of a closet," Sergeant Pillarella said. "We also have a veterinary exam room, which allows the veterinarian to come to us without disrupting operations at the vet clinic. They have also added workstations so the handlers won't have to fight over computers anymore. This construction brought us into the 21st century."

"This should be a model for all kennels," he said. "Compared to the other kennels I have seen, Luke's MWD kennel is the best by far."