Commend Conservation Program that Benefits from Rescued Dogs

Target: Dr. Samuel Wasser, Director of the Conservation Canine Program

Goal: Thank Dr. Wasser and staff for their extraordinary conservation work with adopted dogs

Wildlife conservationists at the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology have created a program by enlisting adopted dogs to track the scent of threatened species. The Conservation Canine Program serves not only as a rescue mission for dogs that have ended up in animal shelters, but also as a unique way to preserve ecosystems. Commend the staff of the Conservation Canine Program for their innovative way of training canines to aid in identifying threatened species.

The program was first founded in 1997 with the intent of addressing certain stress factors of wildlife over a large span of geographic terrain. To gain the precision and efficiency needed, canines are trained to locate wildlife species scat (feces) samples. This, in turn, allows researchers to better understand species distribution, abundance, environmental pressures, and physiological health.

Many dogs that are part of the program have been rescued from animal shelters where they would have otherwise been victims to euthanasia. An example of an on-going project includes two dogs that have been trained and deployed into the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico during the monsoon season. They have been taught to track the scent of an endangered Salamander to help scientists estimate how many survived from a regional drought. New Mexico forest conservation project manager, Anne Bradley states that the Jemez salamander has inhabited the Jemez Mountains for thousands of years but due to chronic regional drought conditions, it has become a candidate for a federal endangered listing.

This program has given dogs a chance at a new life by providing a positive outlet for their high-energy levels. The two dogs working on the salamander tracking project, Frehley, an 8-year-old Border collie, and Sampson, a 7-year-old Labrador, have both been rescued from Seattle animal shelters. With more training and experience, canines will be able to search and identify species over a larger range of territory. Thank Dr. Wasser and staff at the Conservation Canine Program for their exemplary conservation work with rescued dogs.


Dear Dr. Wasser,

This unique idea of employing rescue canines to aid in conservation efforts is tremendous. By creating such a resourceful outlet for rescued canines, you have allowed for the dogs to gain a new lease on life. Their incredible ability to seek out species based solely on scent has proven beneficial to research scientists.

One species aided by the dogs’ newfound role is the Jemez salamander. A better understanding of species distribution, abundance, and the environmental stresses upon the salamander’s habitat will allow researchers the knowledge to preserve future ecosystems. With any luck, the salamander species will be taken off the New Mexico endangered list. Thank you for your commitment to conservation and I encourage the continuance of recruiting rescued canines to aid in tracking wildlife.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: docc via flickr

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