Many people know how dogs can be used to sniff out or detect such things as drugs, bombs, agricultural products at ports of entry, human remains and live people. You may have even heard more recently that dogs are being used to detect cancer!!
It is obvious that dogs have an incredible sense of smell, but what may not be so obvious is all the applications where this talent can be used. This organization’s primary goal is to train and provide dogs to assist people working in the fields of Wildlife Conservation, Rangeland Science and Habitat Management. Scientists, Students and Managers often require lengthy surveys to detect the presence, or lack there-of, of certain species. It may be a highly endangered and rare species of plant or animal. It may be an invasive or exotic species of plant or animal that is threatening native species. It may be a diseased plant or animal that needs to be confined before an outbreak occurs.
These surveys are not only limited to landmasses. Search and Rescue dogs are routinely trained to search water bodies from boats for human remains. Dogs have been trained to detect whale feces in the OCEAN working from boats. Feces, otherwise known as “poop” is a useful tool for scientists because a sample, once sent to a laboratory, can tell them many things including hormone levels, stress levels, disease, gender and more. There has been enough work and scientific publications using dogs in these fields to prove that it does work and the dogs are highly accurate and reduce man hours significantly.
Dogs for Conservation has several excellent detection dog trainers who are volunteering their time and expertise to assist with this cause:
Ben Alexander, Tiffanie Turner and the entire Team at CenTex Search and Rescue (http://www.rothcala.com/CenTexSAR.html) are an incredibly valuable resource to have on our side, and they operate very close to our home base as well. This is one of the best Search and Rescue K-9 teams in the country, and both the team members and dogs are outstanding. Both Ben and Tiffanie have trained numerous dogs certified for Disaster, Live Find and Cadaver over Land and Water. Tiffanie trained K-9 “Fanta”, a former shelter puppy, who ended up being awarded K-9 of the Year by the National Association for Search and Rescue in 2010.
Rebecca Ross is the founder of non-profit organization “Dogs for Conservation” (www.dogsforconservation.org) which provides and trains detection canines to assist with wildlife conservation efforts. She holds a BSc in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A&M University and an MSc in Zoology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Rebecca has worked in the field both in the United States and in southern Africa for many years now.
She is also very experienced in the management, care and training of animals in zoological collections. Rebecca has spent ten years assisting her husband’s wildlife capture company (www.heliwild.com) with mass and chemical capture of both wild and captive animals in Africa and the United States. Together they also founded the company “Dan-Inject Dart Guns” (www.daninjectdartguns.com) which provides state of the art immobilization equipment and advice to wildlife professionals throughout North and South America.
Rebecca has extensive animal training experience, having trained captive exotic animals for behavioral husbandry purposes as well as many years of companion dog training. She is now combining her two passions and areas of expertise to offer the wildlife community an invaluable tool for conducting research. Rebecca shares her home with a very patient and talented husband, a remarkable four year old daughter, Golden Retriever “Riley”, French Bulldog “Tank” and Golden Retriever K9 in training “Ranger”, as well as an assortment of farm animals.
At this time there are other trainers who wish to remain anonymous but have helped and continue to help in so many ways!