In a collaboration between Penn and the Monell Chemical Sciences Centers, Ohlin and McBain (above) and Thunder (left) will use their noses to detect the disease in humans.
Ovarian cancer kills more than 14,000 women every year and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the nation.
The collaboration, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, takes aim at the silent killer with a combination of chemistry, nanotechnology — and dogs.
Canines have been detecting lung and breast cancer for years. With an $80,000 grant from the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, the new project will assess their effectiveness in sniffing out ovarian cancer, and continue an investigation that has been underway in Sweden.
The Swedish professor behind that project, who was using his own dogs for the study, is retiring. But he’s lending his expertise to those involved in the Penn project.
“He’s been advising us along the way to we don’t repeat the same mistakes he made along the way,” said Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center and Associate Professor of Critical Care at Penn Vet.
While the disease is often difficult to diagnose, ovarian cancer’s victims have a survival rate of 90 percent. No effective screening protocol yet exists to detect cases in the early stages.
In the new program, scientists from Penn Medicine’s Division of Gynecologic Oncology will take tissue and blood samples from both healthy and ovarian cancer patients. The samples will be analyzed by chemists, scientists, computers and the puppies at the Working Dog Center, who will be exposed to healthy samples and cancer samples in vented containers they can’t access, but can smell.
The dogs began their training at 8-weeks of age.
“They’re all fabulous and they are very strong in olfaction,” Otto said.
(Photos: Philadelphia Inqurer)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cancer, cancer sniffing, chocolate labs, collaboration, detect, detecting, detection, dog, dogs, Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation, mcbain, medicine, Monell Chemical Sciences Centers, ohlin, ovarian, ovarian cancer, penn, pets, project, research, science, sniff, sniffing, springer spaniel, study, thunder, university of pennsylvania, working dog center
60 Minutes looked at bomb-sniffing dogs in a report that, especially given last night’s other featured stories — on the Marathon bombing and the 9/11 Memorial — brought home not just how many lives they’ve saved in the military overseas, but how many more they might save here.
Reporter Lara Logan focused on the dogs of war, and the trainers that describe their canines as nearly infallible when it comes to detecting bombs.
But they’re not so infallible when explosive devices are planted after the dogs have made their sweeps, as apparently was the case at the Boston Marathon.
“Would an average police dog have found these bombs at the Boston Marathon …?” she asked trainer Mike Ritland.
“…Based on what I do know, yes,” Ritland said. “If dogs went through the areas where they were placed– you know, your average, certified police bomb dog should have found them. My thoughts are if these guys (the suspects) are paying close attention to these dogs, they’re waiting. And when the dogs leave, they bring it in, they hand– they infiltrate, essentially, they drop it right where it’s busy, and very soon after, it detonates.”
As the “60 Minutes” piece pointed out, since 9/11 dogs have been used more than ever because nothing is more effective in finding hidden bombs. Dogs in the employ of the military and FBI have sniffed out bombs, captured enemies, and one assisted Navy SEAL Team 6 when it took down Osama bin Laden. Much more of what they do, given the often secretive nature of their work, never becomes known.
“The best of them serve with U.S. Special Operations and they’re in a league of their own,” Logan noted. “It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to talk about them publicly because much of what they do is classified, but we were able to talk to the people who train them for this story. We took the opportunity to ask about what might have happened in Boston while getting a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of America’s most elite dogs.”
(One member of the “60 Minutes” team — in a segment not shown on the air but featured on 60minutesovertime.com – even volunteered to be chased down by a military dog in training in Texas. Producer Reuben Heyman-Kantor, in the video above, tried to outrun the dog, but was brought down quickly.)
In her interview with former Navy SEAL Ritland, who now finds and trains dogs for Special Operations and top tier units in the FBI, Logan asked, ”What can these dogs do on the streets of America?”
“The very same thing that they do for our boys overseas in that they detect explosives– they are a fantastic deterrent– they use their nose to find, you know, people as well,” Ritland said.
“Everybody knows that dogs can smell better than humans but what they don’t realize is that if you and I walk into the kitchen and there’s a pot of beef stew on the counter, you and I smell beef stew. A dog smells potatoes, carrots, beef, onion, celery, gravy, flour. They smell each and every individual component of everything that’s in that beef stew. And they can separate everyone one of those. You can’t hide anything from them. It won’t work because you can’t fool a dog’s nose.”
Ritland now trains dogs on his 20-acre ranch in rural Cooper, Texas, runs the Warrior Dog Foundation for retired war dogs, and is the author of “Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale From the Training Ground to the Battlefield with Elite Navy SEAL Canines.”
Ritland says its important — amid these days of budget cuts — to remember what lifesavers the dogs can be, both in wars and at home.
In Afghanistan, according to the report, 42 dogs have been killed in action. They’ve become so effective that the enemy is singling them out. A Taliban commander told “60 Minutes” that on his last operation they were ordered to open fire on the American dogs first, and deal with the soldiers next.
Logan visited what she said was one of only three breeders in the U.S. who produce dogs — almost always the Belgian Malinois — for top tier military units.
She also interviewed Green Beret Chris Corbin who, along with his dog Ax, almost died on their final mission in Afghanistan.
Corbin said he missed a signal from the dog while searching for mines. Ax was alerting to Corbin’s foot, but Corbin realized it too late. He lost both his lower legs. Ax was not wounded. Both returned to duty.
Ax was at Corbin’s side during the interview, and rarely took his eyes off his former partner as he described their first reunion after the blast.
“I just said something simple. ‘Hey, where’s my boy at?’ and he stopped. He froze. He looked around. And he went into a panic until he found me and he jumped on my legs. Painful. Just– I was just happy to see him. I didn’t care how much it hurt.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 60 minutes, 911, animals, ax, belgian malinois, bomb, bombing, bombs, boston marathon, budget, chris corbin, cutbacks, detecting, detection, dog, dogs, explosive, fbi, green beret, homeland security, ied, lara logan, law enforcement, mike ritland, military, mines, navy seal, news, nose, pets, searches, security, smell, sniffing, special operations, sweeps, training
A Secret Service dog died Saturday when it fell off a parking deck in New Orleans while providing security during a speaking engagement by Vice President Joe Biden.
The Belgian Malinois fell from the roof of the six-story deck adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton.
Biden was speaking at a fundraiser for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
The dog, whose name or gender was’t provided, was working in the Premier Parking garage in the 900 block of Iberville when New Orleans Police said it fell off the roof.
Federal Agents and Police rushed the dog to a Metairie Veterinary hospital, but veterinarians were unable to revive the dog, WWL-TV reported.
Secret Service spokesman Max Milien called the death was a “tragic accident.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, belgian malinois, death, detection, dies, dog, dogs, event, explosives, fall, garage, joe biden, killed, Mary Landrieu, new orleans, parking, pets, roof, secret service, security, senator, speaking, vice president
Navy Captain Bob Dolan died at the Pentagon on 9-11, but his namesake, a Labrador retriever trained in bomb detection, is ready for duty.
The 500th dog to go through Transportation Security Administration training at Lackland Air Force Base — all of them are being named after the 3,000 victims of 9-11 — Dolan is headed for duty in Maui, according to NBC.
NBC first reported on the dog when the TSA announced the birth of the 500th dog destined to enter its Explosives Detection Canine Team program. Dolan got to meet the wife of the man he was named after, Capt. Robert Edward Dolan Jr., on the Today show.
“My children and I are very excited to have a puppy named in Bob’s memory,” said Lisa Dolan. “Bob began his military career as an explosives ordnance expert. When he was killed at the Pentagon, he was working on Homeland Defense, and so it very fitting to have one of the TSA puppies named for our hero, Captain Bob Dolan. Knowing ‘Puppy Dolan’ will one day be an explosives detection canine in the service of our country is reassuring. Dolan’s future career keeping travelers safe is a fitting addition to Bob’s legacy of freedom.”
Lisa Dolan and her daughter got to reunite with the dog again at his recent graduation.
Operating out of Lackland Air Force Base since 2002, TSA’s canine program selectively breeds and prepares puppies to be trained and deployed to airports and mass transit systems throughout the country.
About half of the 500 puppies bred by TSA are working as detection dogs for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies or have been selected as breeders for the program.
The TSA relies on volunteers to help raise the puppies. After screening and an orientation, families in central Texas provide a nurturing home environment from 10 weeks to 12 months of age. TSA provides all the food, equipment and veterinary care, and the families provide environments in which the puppies can grow and develop.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 000, 3, 9-11, airports, animals, bob dolan, bomb, bomb-sniffing, captain, detection, dogs, explosives, foster, homeland, labrador retriever, lackland air force base, law enforcement, mass transit, navy, pentagon, pets, puppies, robert edward dolan jr, security, training, transportation security administration, tsa, victim, volunteer
Warning: This video is graphic and disturbing
A video posted on the Internet reportedly shows soldiers in Colombia using a dog for target practice.
The video, taken with a cell phone, shows four officers joking as they tie the animal to a tree, shoot it and laugh while it yelps.
Later, the dog — identified in some reports as a trained detection dog — is struck with the butt of a rifle and, once it regains consciousness, appears to be picked up and thrown.
The unnamed soldiers are reported to be from Infantry Battalion Magdalena 27.
The New York Daily News said the incident happened four months ago in the jungle near the town of Pitalito, but didn’t come to light until this past weekend when a video clip was uploaded to YouTube.
Army Colonel Fabian Estevez is quoted in the South American press as saying the dog miraculously survived the incident and had since been treated for its injuries and “was doing fine.”
The four soldiers who were filmed shooting at the dog have been identified, but face no charges, according to Colombia Reports.
“But this is a regrettable and despicable act from the point of view of the National Army,” Estevez said. “Some young soldiers in an unusual game committed an act of indiscipline which will be subject to investigation of military justice.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, army, cell phone, cellphone, colombia, colombian, Colonel, cruelty, detection, disturbing, dog, dogs, Fabian Estevez, graphic, infantry, internet, magdalena 27, pets, posted, practice, shoot, sniffer, soldiers, south america, target, video, youtube
The west’s version of kudzu — a noxious weed known as Dyer’s woad — is being sniffed out by specially trained dogs as part of a program in Montana aimed at eradicating the fast-spreading, yellow blooming, Russian-born member of the mustard family.
First found in Montana in 1934, the weed, native to southeast Russia, can grow four inches in a week, produce as many as 10,000 seeds, send its roots five feet underground and climb waist high, leaving little room for native plants.
That’s where the dogs come in.
Deb Tirmenstein and her dogs — a Labrador named Wibaux and a border collie called Seamus — joined Montana’s Dyer’s woad eradication project in 2011.
Wibaux, initially trained to find cadavers, and Seamus, who was rescued from a Bozeman shelter, now scramble up and down mountains sniffing out pockets of the weed. When they find some, they get a treat, and the weed gets sprayed with herbicides.
The project grew out of research conducted at Montana State University, acording to an article by the Montana State University News Service, published in the Helena Independent Record.
Montana Dyer’s Woad Cooperative Project started in 1984, and it has seen the weed’s presence drop from 17 counties down to seven – Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Park.
The dogs are just the most recent tool in the battle.
Kim Goodwin, a research associate in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture, started investigating the possibility of using dogs to detect noxious weeds when she was a master’s degree student at MSU.
Goodwin’s research showed that dogs and people complement each other when looking for noxious weeds. People can spot large flowering patches of the plants ; dogs can detect single plants, even before they start sprouting.
“Through our research, we found they are able to detect twice as many small plants as the surveyors do,” Goodwin said.
This year on Mount Sentinel in Missoula the dogs detected about 40 locations that humans missed, said Goodwin, whose original research used German shepherds and focused on knapweed.
Goodwin said she got the idea for using dogs to detect noxious weeds after reading about the ”Beagle Brigade,” which inspects luggage and boxes for the USDA at U.S. airports and ports of entry.
Trainers introduced Wibaux to Dyer’s woad by hiding the weed inside a box with holes in the lid and placing the box next to boxes containing other weeds.
When Wibaux realized she would receive a treat or get to retrieve a ball every time she detected Dyer’s woad, she started honing in on it.
(Photos of Wibaux and Seamus by Sepp Jannotta / MSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, control, Deb Tirmenstein, detection, dogs, dyers woad, eradication, idaho, kim goodwin, labrador, montana, montana state university, nature, noxious, pets, program, research, retriever, science, seamus, sniff, sniffing, weed, weeds, west, wibaux, woad
The National Fire Dog Monument, a memorial to accelerant-detecting dogs, is scheduled to arrive today in Washington.
Over the weekend, the sculpture stopped in Bloomington, about halfway through a 12-city, 2,000-mile tour that began in Denver, where it was created. The tour is sponsored by State Farm Insurance and the American Humane Association.
“From Ashes to Answers” is a sculpture of a firefighter looking down at his Labrador retriever. Its destination, and forever home, will be Fire Station No. 3 in Washington.
You can learn more about the monument, which acknowledges the work of accelerant-detecting dogs used in arson investigations, at the monument’s website.
The life-sized, 450-pound statue was conceived by Jerry Means, an arson investigator from Colorado, and sculpted by Denver-area firefighter Austin Weishel.
“The work that the dogs do really inspired me to create something where they can be recognized and so, four years ago, we started raising money,” Means told The Pantagraph. “We raised over $100,000 and are bringing recognition to these dogs who are so important in finding out who or what is responsible for fires.”
Weishel, a 22-year-old, self-taught sculptor, spent more than 1,500 hours completing the project.
“It’s something I enjoy doing and being a firefighter myself, I made sure I took the time and effort to get every detail exactly right,” he said.
Photo: Sculptor Austin Weishel of Colorado and Bruce Abbott, a member of the Bloomington Township Fire Department, next to the sculpture; by Lori Ann Cook-Neisler / The Pantagraph)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accelerant, animals, arson, austin weishel, bloomington, detecting, detection, dogs, fire, insurance, investigations, jerry means, memorial, national fire dog monument, pets, sculptor, sculpture, state farm, tour, washington
The dogs are members of “EcoDogs,” a three-year-old collaboration at Alabama’s Auburn University between the science departments and the school’s Canine Detection Research Institute, which trains dogs to detect explosives.
Environmentalists fear the non-native pythons are upsetting the ecological balance of South Florida. Their spread is generally attributed to irresponsible pet owners dumping their snakes and 1992′s Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed an adjacent exotic snake warehouse.
Now they’ve adapted to the Everglades, and park officials say there’s no way of eradicating them. Instead, with help from dogs, they hope to keep them from further spreading.
In a trial run, the dogs showed they can cover a search area 2.5 times faster than a person.
“People can only see that the snake is there if they can see the snake. The dogs can smell the snake even if it’s not visually apparent to us,” said Christina Romagosa, a biologist at Auburn.
Two black Labrador retrievers from EcoDogs, Ivy and Jake, were sent to the 2,358-square-mile park in 2010 and demonstrated their skills to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a Reuters report that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
Todd Steury, an Auburn conservation biologist and co-founder of the project, said training a new dog to detect a scent takes six to 10 weeks. Training for each additional scent, he said, takes “about 10 minutes. You can do it by accident if you’re not careful.”
In controlled experiments, the EcoDogs success rate in finding pythons at the park was 75-92 percent, Romagosa said. The dogs helped researchers trap 19 pythons, including a pregnant snake with 19 eggs, according to an EcoDog report.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, auburn university, biology, bomb, burmese pythons, canine detection, conservation, detecting, detection, dogs, ecodogs, ecology, environment, everglades, everglades national park, florida, pets, pythons, research institute, scent, snakes, sniffing, training
This one’s a lot like the story we told you last this week — about a German shepherd in Baltimore named Jerry Lee — but in our view it’s the sort of thing that can’t happen often enough.
Bear, a two-year-old Labrador retriever mix who months ago was just another mutt in a Kentucky animal shelter, is the newest addition to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama.
Dustain Vance, head trainer for Advance Canine Academy in Scottsville, Ky., adopted Bear from the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society. Bear had been adopted earlier, but returned by a family who had difficulty controlling the dog’s energetic behavior.
“For a drug dog, that’s what we actually look for,” Sheriff Ted Sexton, who swore in Bear as a deputy Wednesday, told Al.com. “We’re looking for a dog that has drives and instincts primarily in play and prey and hunt, and he excels in this particular area.”
The Sheriff’s Office purchased the dog from the training center, and he’s been assigned to a partner, a deputy attached to the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force.
Bear has been trained to sniff out marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Last week, Bear and his new handler returned from training to Tuscaloosa, where the dog immediately found a pound of marijuana in a FedEx package. He has since made another bust.
Deputy Nick Lolley said he and Bear are getting along well in their first week on the job. “He has to trust you and you have to trust him,” Lolley said. “That’s — I say 50 percent of it, because if a dog trusts you, then he’ll work for you.”
(Photo: Chris Pow / al.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy, adopted, advance canine academy, alabama, animals, bear, bowling green, canine, county, department, detection, dog, dogs, drug, drug-sniffing, humane society, k9, kentucky, labrador retriever, mix, narcotics, pets, shelter, sheriff, task force, training, tuscaloosa, warren county, west
The one-year-old German shepherd was found on the streets by a mailman, and ended up at the Baltimore Humane Soceity. Now he’s on his way to being a drug sniffing dog with the Maryland Division of Correction Canine Unit.
Shortly after Jerry Lee arrived at the Humane Soceiey, Berno Combs, the animal care director, noticed he had all the qualities that the Correction Unit’s Canine Division looks for in recruits — he was calm, confident, steady when suddenly approached and willing to do almost anything in exchange for a ball.
Combs called the division to see if they wanted to come from Hagerstown to check him out. The prison system officially adopted him Feb. 23.
Jerry Lee still has to qualify for the job. He’ll be matched with a handler and enter a ten week Narcotic Detection Dog Academy.
Captain Mark Flynn says the Correction Canine Unit has adopted many dogs from shelters who are still in service today.
“We like to take our dogs from shelters. First, it saves lives. Second, it saves the state a lot of money. It cost us thousands of dollars to buy one dog from a breeder. A Labrador, for instance, can cost between $1,500 to $3,000 – and that’s untrained. If the dog is pre-trained by a breeder it can cost the state $6000.”
Upon graduation Jerry Lee will either be a patrol dog or a drug sniffer, the Humane Society said.
(Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, baltimore, baltimore humane society, correction, corrections, detection, dogs, drug, german shepherd, homeless, jerry lee, maryland, pets, prisons, shelter, stray, training