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.
This is a total win-win type situation. It is also INCREDIBLY unique and forward thinking. If you like to support new and unusual intiatives that have tremendous potential to make a difference, then this is the organization for you. If you read our biography, you will see that there is a very talented and experienced team of people standing behind this organization. If they can train dogs to find drugs in a high school, or a lost hiker in the woods, then training a dog to find anything else will be easy. We care about protecting our natural resources, and are committed to providing a useful tool to biologists and conservationists to help make their jobs easier and more efficient.
We work solely on donations, and actually have a very small budget compared to most non-profit organizations. This is a rare opportunity to actually see your donation at work almost immediately, and know that ALL of the money we collect goes straight towards maintaining our dogs, traveling to field sites, and buying equipment we need. Nobody is making a salary, none of us want money... we just want to get this off the ground!
PLEASE remember that if we do not meet our goal we will not get any of the money that was pledged!!
This particular campaign was started because Dogs for Conservation is in need of some specialized equipment that will help map out our surveys and follow the dogs' as they search out their target. We would like to purchase this GIS/GPS equipment soon so we can have it ready for some that will be starting soon!!
The primary desktop GIS software that we need is ESRI ArcGIS Desktop Basic, which retails for $1500.
Finally, we need a Garmin ASTRO dog tracking system which is about $600.
Hopefully we will exceed our fundraising goal! If we do, all extra money will go straight into the bank account and give us a little room to breathe. Each dog costs us approximately $5,000 to maintain per year assuming they stay healthy (food, preventative care, etc). Any pet owner knows that things go wrong, so extra money in case of doggy emergencies is welcome.
We also have several potential projects in the works that may require donations or grants to get off the ground to cover our costs of getting a dog and handler to the field sites and covering their costs while deployed in the field.
We have two dogs training right now to work on two different projects in collaboration with Texas A&M University in Kingsville, TX and with the Houston Zoo. For now they are top secret missions, but the results could be very exciting and useful to biologists. We are also in talks for some VERY exciting possible contracts in some AMAZING faraway places that most people only dream of going.
These dogs give us a rare insight into things that humans would very often overlook. The dogs may help us discover that a species exists where it was previously thought extinct... or that an invasive species is beginning to take over from native species. These discoveries can lead to preventative actions that may be just in time to actually make a difference for those species involved!
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.
Rebecca does not do this alone however...
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.
16 hours left to raise $700.... SO close!! Time to rally, SHARE with everyone you can!!!
Hey guys I am back from my trip to Africa and am overloaded with great information from my trip and the workshop I attended just ten days ago in South Africa. I got to spend time with multiple "Conservation K9's" and their handlers/trainers, and hear about their adventures in the field.
We have 23 days left to raise a little more than half of our goal for the campaign. Thank you all so much for your pledges to date. I know we can do this! If you can "share" this campaign where possible my goal is to get as many new faces on board as possible!!