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Tag: sewage

The dog that helps clean up OUR mess

Sable_restingFor all those who fret obsessively about dogs leaving environmentally damaging messes behind — not that it’s not a valid concern — here’s a story of a dog who’s helping clean up the messes we leave behind.

Sable, a discarded German shepherd mix adopted from an animal shelter, has been trained to sniff out illegal sewer connections, which dump billions of gallons of bacteria-filled water into rivers, lakes and streams each year, leading to closed beaches, contaminating fisheries and costing millions to clean up.

Scott Reynolds adopted Sable with the idea of training him to sniff out illegal sewer connections. Now, after a year of work in Michigan’s Kawkawlin River, Sable has earned enough praise to be top dog at Environmental Canine Services, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“In the mornings, he runs to the back room and looks to the hook where his harness is, as if to say, ‘Do we get to do this today?’ ” Reynolds said. “He loves to work.”

Sable is scheduled to do his thing next in Santa Barbara, California, then head to Maine next spring to help track pollution that has closed shellfish beds along the coast.

Sable sniffs water in drains and pipes — often buried in deep woods or under fallen trees — to detect illegal sewer connections. He barks when he smells raw sewage.

Sable also  has his own website, sablethesniffer.com.

Sable has an 87% accuracy rate measured against lab results, Reynolds says.

Normally, municipalities send human employees to detect illegal sewer connections — a bit of a guessing game, and a process that requires lab tests that can take weeks.

The dog was turned over by owners who mistreated him, said Autumn Russell of Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary, near Grand Rapids. “No one had any idea of his potential,” she said.

Reynolds, who has trained other rescued dogs for search and rescue and narcotics detection, spent more than a year training Sable to sniff out waste, ammonia and detergents that signal illegal connections.

(Photo: By Robert Domm, courtesy of Environmental Canine Services)