The Military Veterinary Institute (MVI) in Potchefstroom, South Africa, is dedicated to providing medical care for the animals who serve in the South African military. Yet this objective has become harder to fulfill in recent years due to a shortage of staff members, according to defenceWeb.

Col. Ruan Harris, who commands the MVI, believes that the institute cannot function as intended with the staffing shortage. Harris, who took over command of the MVI from Col. Paul van der Merwe, lauds the staff on their efforts, but maintains that the institute must do better if it is to make a positive impact on the military’s overall operations.

“This must be addressed as the MVI cannot properly fulfill its mandate with a structure that is far too small,” Harris says.

The MVI serves dogs and horses that are used for border protection, display and occasionally personal protection. It is technically classified as a level four South African Military Health Services force structure element in the Tertiary Military Health Formation, according to the South African National Defence Force.

The MVI is staffed by 107 people but is in need of specialists such as veterinarians and veterinary nurses. The effect of this shortage is softened somewhat by the aid of outsourced and compulsory community service veterinarians, but still causes problems.

When the MVI operation wing gives health services to the dogs and horses that are deployed in the Musina mission area, it is supposed to do so with the complement of a veterinary officer, veterinary nurse, orderly and a farrier. However, these services are being provided with only the farrier and orderly present.