Photo: LA(Phot) Iggy Roberts/MOD, OGL
The Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) plays a vital role in the defence of the nation, working primarily in handling, training and caring for military dogs and horses.
For recent graduates not looking to go into private practice, or even those who want to work with animals but have no formal veterinary training, the Army may be an option worth considering.
A veterinary officer in the RAVC has a dual role in looking after animals and being in command of soldiers. Starting at the rank of lieutenant, the qualities needed for this career – aside from your veterinary degree – are:
- an interest in decision making
- a love of being outdoors
- the aspiration to be a leader
- an affinity with technology
As well as developing your skills as a vet, you would learn to motivate and lead a team.
The induction course takes place at Melton Mowbray and includes basic dog handling. Your training would then rotate between clinical work and acquisition of military skills.
A veterinary technician supports the veterinary officer and looks after any injured or sick animals. This job involves keeping all the animals healthy, taking care of equipment and nursing any military animals that are in hospital.
Technicians are there to assist during surgery and also get trained in dog handling, radiography, first aid and disease prevention.
Starting at the rank of private, there are many opportunities for promotion. The essential qualifications are four GCSEs and a registration as a veterinary nurse.
Dog handlers travel all over the world with their military working dogs. Specialised training leads to detection of explosives and arms, as well as illegal drugs.
While the primary responsibility is for the welfare, health and training of the dogs, you would also receive instruction in soldiering.
While no formal qualifications are required, you need to have a risk-averse philosophy to take on this challenging and rewarding job.
Joining the RAVC is a career route that covers an exceptionally wide sphere, from the procurement of the animals, to their lifetime fitness, health and care.
From ceremonial horses to bomb disposal dogs, the military working animals play a crucial part in the service, which can and does include being sent on deployment.