During patient rounds at the Defense Department’s Joint Pathology Center here, veterinarians taking part in the Veterinary Pathology Residency Program examine slides of canine tissue on a multiheaded microscope. They agree on the diagnosis of a lymphoma — cancer — in a military working dog, as the director of the veterinary pathology residency program encourages their observations and conclusions.
“We see not just military working dog [cases], but also U.S. Capitol police dogs, Border Protection dogs and Secret Service dogs,” among other federal canine pathology cases, said the center’s director of veterinary pathology, Army Col. (Dr.) Derron A. Alves, a veterinarian. Additionally, he said, the service sees pathology samples from the animals of active-duty service members.
Veterinary pathologists do not see live animals. The staff and residents of the program see tissue and organs from animals submitted by any of about 500 Army veterinarians.
For example, if an Army veterinarian surgically removes a mass from a dog and sends it to the lab for a diagnosis, it will be examined by pathologists at the center. “Every tumor that comes in gets four or five sets of eyes on it,” Alves said.
Veterinary Pathology Defined
The Joint Pathology Center doctors — five staff members and 10 Army residents — are veterinary pathologists, meaning they are board-certified as both veterinarians and…