Rescued Dogs Using Their Noses To Help Biologists Save Endangered Wildlife

By Hope Bidegainberry on June 26, 2020
close up of the nose of a black staffordshire bull terrier dog sleeping on a bed of black, grey and silver material.

Some dogs never get adopted because they have too much energy, exhibit destructive or aggressive behavior, or just can’t bond with humans. Fortunately, one Washington State-based group has discovered these shelter rejects have a critical job to do. They are shaping unwanted mutts into skilled detection dogs that help biologists gather critical data in the field.

The dogs all have one thing in common. They’re obsessed with playing fetch and that’s all they want to do. All these so-called “unadoptable” dogs having found their inexhaustible energy, and compulsive need to play ball, tends to produce the best wildlife biologists. 

They pair that insane need to play fetch with locating rare or elusive odors, whether this is wildlife or toxins or invasive plants or live animals. 

Retraining dogs isn’t easy, especially when you’re working with shelter dogs. It can take years to just train one dog. Once trained these dogs travel the country and world in the name of wildlife conservation. 

One benefit to detection dogs is that they can canvas for multiple species during a single survey.


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