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6/11/2014 2:00:00 PM
Dogs Work to Locate Pollution Along Medomak

Handler Scott Reynolds leads Sable, a German shepherd mix sniffing a water sample during a demonstration at the Waldoboro Town Landing. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
Handler Scott Reynolds leads Sable, a German shepherd mix sniffing a water sample during a demonstration at the Waldoboro Town Landing. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
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By Dominik Lobkowicz

FB Environmental and Environmental Canine Services came to Waldoboro June 9 to help locate sources of human waste pollution along the banks of the Medomak River near the village.

The search was planned to help prevent closure of the river's clam flats next year, and was part of an ongoing water quality collaboration between the town's shellfishermen, the Medomak Valley Land Trust, the Waldoboro Utility District, and state agencies.

Karen and Scott Reynolds, co-owners of Environmental Canine Services, brought along two of their dogs trained in locating human waste: a rough collie mix named Logan, and a German shepherd mix named Sable.

Logan has the stronger nose, according to Karen, and is able to detect human waste in water at very low levels.

"Sometimes we'll be able to tell that he's picking up on something really low and follow it up until it gets higher and Sable starts alerting on higher levels, and we know we're getting closer to the source," Karen said at a public demonstration held at the Waldoboro Town Landing the afternoon of June 9.

The dogs are trained to alert on human waste specifically, and can "scent-discriminate" to filter out background scents, according to Scott.

"As part of our training we actually collect various types of scat from most wild and domestic animals and we use that in our training process to teach them to leave that alone, that they don't get rewarded for it," he said.

As far as locating the source or sources of the pollution, Emily DiFranco, of FB Environmental, said more work needs to be done first.

Originally the dogs were planned to come up for two consecutive days, but a priority list will be created following the assessment data to be used on another visit later in the summer, DiFranco said.

"We got a few interesting answers from the dogs, but we have to basically take everything back and compare it to the water quality data that we took as well, so that's going to take a day or so to get the results from that to really figure out what our next steps will be," DiFranco said.

DiFranco said water samples were taken along side the dogs to compare how much bacteria is actually in the water, and samples may also indicate if there are animal sources of pollution instead.




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