Image of the Day: Shelter Dogs Get New Leash on Life

Credit: Conservation Canines

An innovative program uses high-energy shelter dogs to sniff out endangered species. In a win-win situation, active dogs in shelters are selected and their energy is channeled into finding the scat of threatened and endangered species in the Conservation Canines Program at the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. And taking the program a step further, the dogs are being trained to spot and identify the animals on their own.

Last year, the Nature Conservancy teamed up the Conservation Canines Program to supply salamander scat and a piece of broken-off salamander tail for the dogs to learn the scent. In the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, salamanders have become endangered due to chronic drought conditions that have taken a toll on its habitat.

The salamanders are very sensitive to changes in temperature and moisture, so the hope is that researchers will be able to now create a management plan to help them thrive. The dogs in this program have been used around the world and have the ability to cover large tracts of land in a relatively short time.

High-energy dogs many times don’t get adopted quickly in shelters and can be euthanized, so this program helps both the endangered species and the canines.