All three bomb-sniffing dogs handled by the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport have lost their certification after having failed their last two tests.
And Fox News reports the problems may extend beyond that: Sources say about a dozen of the 700 TSA dogs at 85 airports have failed the tests as well.
A TSA spokesman said the three dogs in Philadelphia — after failing standard tests in November and December — are continuing intensive training to regain their certification, and are continuing to work at the airport as a “visual deterrent.”
The dogs, trained in at Lackland Air Force base in Texas, completed the 10-week course all TSA dogs must successfully pass.
Ten other city police dogs assigned to Philadelphia’s airport passed the tests.
The TSA spokesman said the agency is working quickly to recertify the bomb sniffing dogs and assured the traveling public that security would not suffer.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: airport, bomb, certification, detecting, dogs, explosive, fail, international, K-9, k9, lackland, philadelphia, police, recertification, security, sniffing, tests, training, transporation security administration, tsa
Among all the things dogs’ noses are sniffing out to make the world a better and safer place — drugs, explosives, missing children, fleeing felons, diseases, bedbugs, pirated cds, sewage leaks, cell phones in prisons — here’s one I hadn’t heard of:
A Princeton, New Jersey, company is using canines to detect potentially lethal mold in homes, offices and classrooms.
1-800-GOT-MOLD? calls itself America’s leading mold inspection company, and claims to be the nation’s first franchise operation to recruit man’s best friend to pinpoint the location of hidden mold in buildings, preventing potential health dangers, which include fatigue, headaches, respiratory problems, and even cancer.
Mold Dogs (and the term has been trademarked) can locate the source of hidden mold growth, even in its early stages.
The company’s founder, Jason Earle, realized that traditional mold-detection involved a lot of guesswork. While air sampling is commonly used to detect household molds, it often fails to locate the precise source of the problem.
Mold Dogs save time and money and allow the company to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, according to Earle, who suffered from mold-related health complications as a child.
Earle’s dog Oreo is the first mold detection dog in the northeast and one of the first nationwide, he says.
(Photo: Oreo, courtesy of 1-800-GOT-MOLD? )
Posted by John Woestendiek November 30th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 1800gotmold, company, dangers, detecting, detection, dog, got mold, health, hidden, jason earle, mold, mold detection, mold dogs, noses, oreo, princeton, sniffing, source, trained
Balu, a police dog for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in California, accidentally ingested a snoutful of the drug methamphetamine during a search.
The 4 1/2-year-old German shepherd, was rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic early Monday when he began having seizures, about two hours after a drug bust in Moorpark, KTLA reported.
During the arrest, the suspect was seen tossing two bags of drugs. Deputies found one. Balu found the second, torn one. Deputy Dean Worthy said Balu, his partner of three years, seemed fine until they got home and the dog began convulsing. He rushed the animal to the clinic for treatment.
Worthy said Balu is doing well and a full recovery is expected.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: balu, california, dean worthy, deputies, detecting, dog, drug, german shepherd, ingested, ingests, K-9, meth, methamphetamine, moorpark, narcotics, police, seizures, sheriff, sniffing, ventura county
Australian soldiers in Afghanistan bid farewell to Nova, a mixed breed dog from a shelter who was trained to detect bombs.
Nova died after a car accident during a training operation at Camp Holland on Friday, according to the Courier Mail.
The two-year-old dog was involved in several missions in Afghanistan, helping to sniff out improvised explosive devices placed by Taliban insurgents.
Medics tried to save Nova but her wounds were too severe and she was put down by the regimental medical officer. Base personnel later gathered with their chaplain to say farewell to their four-legged mate, who will be cremated.
Several other Australian Army explosive-detection dogs have been killed or injured in Afghanistan over the past two years, including Merlin and Andy, both killed in vehicle accidents, and Razz, who was killed when a bomb he found detonated.
(Photo: Nova and her handler Spr. Reuben Griggs/AAP)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acccident, afghanistan, andy, army, australia, australian, bomb, bombs, detecting, dog, dogs, explosives, merlin, mixed breed, nova, razz, shelter, sniffing, vehicle, war
For 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)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bacteria, connections, contamination, detection, dog, environment, environmental, environmental canine services, hookups, illegal, michigan, sable, scott reynolds, sewage, sewer, sniff, sniffer, sniffing
Six cloned drug-sniffing dogs have gone on duty at Seoul-Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
The dogs are among seven genetic duplicates of a single Labrador retriever named Chase, cloned at Seoul National University for use by the Korean Customs Service.
The dogs, having completed 16 months of training, will work at the airport and three other customs checkpoints to deter drug smuggling, according to the Associated Press.
They are part of a litter of seven born in 2007 through cloning a skilled drug-sniffing canine in active service. They were all named “Toppy” — a combination of the words “tomorrow” and “puppy.” One dropped out of training due to an injury.
The cloning was conducted by a team of Seoul National University scientists who in 2005 successfully created the world’s first dog clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
The customs service says using clones could help reduce costs due to the difficulties in finding dogs qualified to sniff out contraband. Only about three of every 10 naturally born dogs the service trains end up qualifying for the job.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airport, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, customs, detection, drug, incheon, K-9, korea, korean, labrador, news, ohmidog!, puppy, seoul national university, service, sniffing, snuppy, south korea, tomorrow, toppy
A golden retriever rescued as a stray and trained to sniff out bombs for the Mount Holly, N.J., Police Department has died.
Patton, who was 5 years old, died in the vehicle of his handler and partner, Officer Kara McIntosh, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
“We’re investigating every aspect of the case,” said Mount Holly Police Chief Steve Martin.
A spokesman for the New Jersey SPCA said his office was awaiting results of an autopsy performed at the Columbus Animal Hospital. He declined to say whether heat had played a part in the dog’s death. It was unclear how long Patton had been left in the vehicle, or whether McIntosh was working at the time of Patton’s death.
Martin declined to comment on the circumstances leading to the dog’s death.
According to a website dedicated to golden retrievers, Patton was discovered by Mount Holly officers looking for a K-9 dog at the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue’s Golden Gateway, in Lancaster County.
After intensive training, Patton learned to recognize more than 20 scents, and specialized in rooting out shell casings. He became part of a statewide task force under the U.S Department of Homeland Security.
The Trentonian quoted an anonymous source as saying the dog died at an animal hospital after being left in a hot car for an extended period of time.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: autopsy, bomb, car, death, delaware valley golden retriever rescue, died, dog, heat, homeland security, K-9, kara mcintosh, mount holly, new jersey, patton, police, police chief, rescue, rescued, shell casings, sniffer, sniffing, spca, stray, vehicle
With evidence both anecdotal and scientific showing dogs have the potential to sniff out diabetes — or at least detect the changes that occur when a person is about to have a hypoglycemic attack — a research center in southern England is training dogs to warn diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels.
As this 2007 video shows, some dogs already have the skill down, but the Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs research center in Aylesbury, based on recent evidence suggesting a dog’s hyper-sensitive nose can detect impending attacks, is now working to train 17 dogs that will be paired up with diabetic owners.
A survey last December by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found 65 percent of 212 people with insulin-dependent diabetes reported that their pets had reacted by whining, barking, licking or some other display when they had a hypoglycemic episode, according to Reuters.
“Dogs have been trained to detect certain odors down to parts per trillion, so we are talking tiny, tiny amounts. Their world is really very different to ours,” research center Chief Executive Claire Guest said.
The center is continuing work to perfect dogs’ ability in spotting signs of cancer. Guest said having a dog in every doctor’s office would be impractical, but the research could help lead to the invention of an electronic nose that will mimic a dog’s.
“At the moment electronic noses are not as advanced as the dogs’, they are about 15 years behind. But the work that we are doing and what we are finding out will help scientists advance quickly so that they can use electronic noses to do the same thing,” she said.
Pretty amazing stuff, but I think I’d rather be diagnosed by a dog than an electronic nose. And what’s so impractical about a dog in every doctor’s office? Seems entirely practical to me, and a good way — if shelter dogs could be trained to sniff out disease — to allow everyone to live a little longer.
Besides, it would make doctors’ offices far more inviting, and give us something to do in the waiting room.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: cancer, detecting, diabetes, diagnosis, disease, doctor, doctors, dog, dogs, electronic nose, medical, nose, offices, ohmidog!, research, screening, sniff, sniffing, video
Timi came back from the war in with some serious “readjustment issues,” including nightmares characterized by violent kicking — but none were serious enough to prevent him from being returned for another tour of duty in Iraq.
Or at least that’s what his veterinarian said.
Dogs, like human soldiers, can carry the burden of war back home, but the damage isn’t likely to keep them from being sent right back to action. Just like thousands of soldiers, dogs — primarily highly trained German shepherds and Belgian Malinois — are being forced to deploy for two and three tours, according to a Washington Post article.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Defense Department has increased the number of military dogs — mostly bomb sniffers — from 1,320 to 2,025, and many have served multiple tours.
The Post article doesn’t delve into whether its right or wrong to be returning traumatized canines to duty, but considering the Pentagon has invested $15,000 to train each one, it’s likely the military strives to get its money’s worth.
In a way, they’re too valuable to be discharged. Dogs have saved countless lives by finding bombs, ammunition and hidden weapons, said Master Sgt. Robert Tremmel, manager of the working dogs program at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where the dogs from different branches of the military are initially trained.
The U.S. War Dogs Association is trying to persuade the Pentagon to create a medal for dogs. Another group is pushing for a military working dog memorial in the Washington area. And the Humane Society, which criticized the Pentagon during the Vietnam War, when many dogs were left behind or euthanized, has credited the military with working to find retirement homes for them.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: additional, air force base, belgian malinois, bomb, defense department, deploy, dogs, explosive, forced, german shepherds, lackland, military, nightmares, pentagon, readjustment, sniffing, soldiers, stress, timi, tour of duty, tours, training, trauma, traumatized, u.s. ward dogs association, vietnam, war, war dogs, working dogs
To drugs, explosives, fleeing criminals, oncoming seizures and even cancer, add peanuts to the list of what dogs are saving lives by sniffing out.
About a dozen dogs in the country have been trained to detect the presence of peanuts, and protect their owners from serious allergic reactions.
One of them, Rock’O, a Portugese water dog, is safeguarding a Colorado girl named Riley Mers, 8, whose allergy to peanuts is so severe that contact with them could send her body into shock within minutes.
“It might look to you like it’s a kid playing with a dog,” Riley’s mother, Sherry, told ABC News. “To me, that’s a dog that’s saving my daughter’s life while they’re playing.”
“Training a peanut allergy dog to sniff out peanuts is much like training a dog to do narcotics or bomb sniffing,” said Tina Rivero, head trainer of Angel Service Dogs in Monument. “It’s just a different scent that they are hitting on. Instead of the marijuana or the cocaine or the bomb, they are actually finding the peanut.”
Having Rock’O along — even at school — means Riley no longer has to wear gloves, or ask classmates if they had peanut butter for lunch.
Upon detecting peanuts Rock’O sits in his “alert” position — a stance he’s been trained to make to let Riley know that he’s found something she should avoid.
“I can actually go to the mall. I can actually go to bowling alleys,” Riley said said. “I’m wanting to go to college, and I’m going to be able to.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allergic, allergies, allergy dog, angel service dogs, bombs, colorado, detecting, detection, dog, drugs, explosives, monument, peanut, peanut butter, portugese water dog, reactions, riley mers, sniffing