Sable the Sniffer Appearing at the Pet Fair in Menomonee Falls

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We have heard of drug sniffing dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, cadaver sniffing dogs, but have you heard of a sewage sniffing dog?

Scott Reynolds of Environmental Canine Services (ECS) has just that kind of dog!

Meet Sable, a raw sewage sniffing dog. 

Adopting and Training Sable
Sable, a 4 and half-year-old German Shepherd mix, is able to detect raw sewage and detergents (surfactants) flowing into sewers which pollute our rivers. 

Dogs have great sniffers, able to detect odors far more discriminating, finding the source of a scent while ignoring all background scents. Add a highly focused and intelligent dog, and you have Sable, perfect for the job.

After an extensive search for just the right dog, Sable was adopted in March 2007 as a 15-month year old from the Mackenzie’s (no-kill) Animal shelter in Lake Odessa, Michigan. “Sable is an amazing companion” Scott enlightened proudly and his first rescue dog. 

Sable’s extensive scent tracking training program started in April of 2007 and by August, he was out in the field investigating and finding sources of pollution.  

Why Sable is Important
Today, it is more and more important for cities to detect illicit discharging of pollution into our rivers. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Programs have been formed in major cities as a result of the NR216 stormwater discharge permit by the Department of Natural Resources as a result of pollution found in rivers from aging infrastructure. Other sources of pollution are the result of complex sewer networks and even illegal hookups of the sanitary system. 

Dry weather investigation of outfalls into rivers is a requirement of the IDDE program. Water discharging from an outfall structure during dry weather is an indicator of possible pollution.  Water samples are collected and then tested. 

Testing for E-coli (human raw sewage) in the water samples is one way to confirm the illegal connections, or leaking sanitary systems.  

Positive results of the tests require further investigation and tests in which the costs keep adding up for a city. 

Sable's Contribution

Before Sable’s great sniffer, a city was burdened with high costs to investigating the storm sewer system.  Continued water sample testing or by using dye tests in houses continuing upstream until the source is found is time consuming taking months.  When every flush counts, Sable is saving precious time locating the source of pollution.

Sable has been working for 3 years and has over 500 recorded site visits to outfalls and upstream investigations. 

Sable has had an 87% accuracy record proven by a previous research project in 2009, however a new research project done this year in Santa Barbara, California will most likely prove Sable’s improved accuracy results showing distinctions between animal and human waste DNR markers in the test results. 

Hiring a professional sniffer is a low-cost, low-tech method to investigate illegal sanitary/storm sewer connections, an option for cities to solve their sewer pollution problems.

Over the past few years, the Scott and Sable team has grown to now include both Sky, an adopted Akita mix and Logan, a rough coat Collie from a rescue.  

Scott Reynolds and his pack of superior sniffers will be at the Menomonee Falls Pet Fair on Saturday August 21, 2010.  Come and meet these exceptional dogs and see his demonstration in the morning at 9:15 AM.  The Pet Fair opens at 9:00 AM at Rotary Park Area #1 on Fond du Lac Ave. 

Submitted by Nancy Greifenhagen August 10, 2010