KITV4 News: “Some four legged friends in Hawaii have life saving skills”
Reason number one-zillion-and-one to love dogs. Apparently, they can be trained to detect cancer. And not just cancer, there are K-9s on Maui that can “sniff out” all sorts of illnesses. Dogs learning life saving skills, right here in Hawaii.
Maureen Maurer’s dogs at Assistance Dogs of Hawaii do more than just melt your heart, these service canines are trained to help save lives.
Sadie might look like any other dog. But what makes her different is she’s going to be trained to detect early signs of cancer in humans.
“The next project we’re doing is teaching dogs to detect early signs of Melanoma,” Maurer said.
Assistance Dogs of Hawaii will be working with dermatologists and other researchers on the project.
Teaching dogs to detect the particular odor of Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
“Dogs have such an amazing sense of smell. It’s over a hundred thousand times stronger than ours, and they can detect parts per trillion,” Maurer said.
Maurer also said there are some dogs already trained to detect cancer but that’s not all they’re trained to sniff out. She also sees a need to help those with spinal cord injuries, strokes, and paralysis, who suffer from urinary tract infections.
“I thought, maybe we could apply that research to training dogs to detect different types of bacterial infections that are common for people with disabilities,” she said.
Several studies were done with Maurer’s dogs. They were able to identify the presence of bacteria at even less than one percent.
In some cases, proving to be more accurate than laboratory tests.
“One of the problems with laboratory tests is they usually take about 48 hours to get the results back,” Maurer said.
In one study, Angel, a hospital dog, began spontaneously alerting to patients with infections.
“Laboratory tests were ordered because of Angel’s alerting behavior and they found out that they did indeed have infections,” Maurer said.
Not all of the dogs are trained to to detect Urinary Tract Infections, but they are all trained on Maui.
The dogs in the program all begin training when they’re anywhere from six to seven weeks old.
A year and a half later, they’re service-dog ready, traveling all over the world – including Japan and the mainland.
Maurer added they’re excited to move forward and have dogs work at hospitals and with clinicians to use the valuable skill.
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