Detection or sniffer dogs have long been used across various sectors, such as military and law enforcement, fire departments, search and rescue units, medical teams, hospitality industry, and more. They are trained to identify specific odours and detect anything from illicit drugs, contraband and explosives, to missing persons, sewer pipeline leaks and bed bug infestations, through to diseases like cancer, diabetes and malaria.
Today, it is not uncommon to find sniffer dogs working in environmental spheres, performing ecological monitoring work for the protection of endangered species or helping manage biological threats of invasive species or diseases. As for Louie, he might possibly be the first pollution detection dog in the world trained to detect chlorinated solvents—chemical compounds that are readily used for commercial and industrial purposes, including metal cleaners/degreasers, paint thinners, pesticides, glues, and dry cleaning applications. When handled, stored and disposed of improperly, these compounds and their waste can release vapours into the air, seep into soils and groundwater and even end up in homes or workplaces, potentially posing environmental or health risks.
“As chlorinated solvents are often invisible, they can be located using traditional methods such as photoionization (PID) detectors, a sensor tool that screens for the presence of gases, reads volatile organic compounds (VOCs) concentration levels, indicating too-high levels, but not necessarily by product type,” says Mette.
This is where Louie steps in with his acute sense of smell, working on all types of projects to find the sources of chlorinated solvents in surface water, groundwater, soil and air. His ability to smell and react on the smallest concentrations of chlorinated solvents is truly extraordinary, something that would be quite impossible to do using other tools.
Louie can find many kinds of pollution with his extremely sensitive measuring device, which makes tracking the sources of pollution very efficient. For example, instead of drilling in different spots to search for pollution, through his keen sense of smell he can determine the spot that will be most successful for drilling. Furthermore, Louie can even find the sources of polluted water or toxic gases within a building, if built on a polluted plot.
There is a myriad of other benefits. With the use of Louie’s nose, sources of pollution can cover more space, in less time and with more accuracy. Detection dogs hold big potential within the pollution field, as they save both time and costs.