Dog Demonstrates Sniffing Out Contaminated Waters

A demonstration in Petoskey was done Monday, showing how a dog can sniff out if water has been contaminated by human fecal bacteria.

The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, along with the Cities of Charlevoix and Petoskey were recently awarded grants from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation.

The money was used to bring in Logan, the sewage sniffing dog and his trainer in for help to find sources of contamination around the area.

“They had been trying to find that for over five years and it never found the source. They brought us in, and in two hours, they found it,” said Karen Reynolds, President of Environmental K9 Services.

Logan’s trainer, Karen Reynolds, explained just how quick Logan found a source of contamination in San Diego a few years back, compared to the normal way of testing.

“With the dogs, we call it on the fly where they just tell us yes it’s here, no it’s not, and we keep moving upstream instead of waiting for the samples to come back,” said Reynolds.

The usual way of testing would take days or even longer to find the source of contamination but the dog’s keen since of smell and training gets the job done a lot faster.

“You tell them that you want them to smell the certain scent. You introduce it to them. We call it imprinting, and we want a positive imprint so they’re like wow I really like that scent,” said Reynolds.

Then you find something that dog really likes, in Logan’s case, food and you pair it with that smell.

Each dog then has a different way of saying he’s found an area contaminated with human fecal bacteria.

“Logan is, like you can see, pretty laid back, and when he’s in the field he just kinda trudges along, his alert is a sit. Other dogs like my husband’s dog, Sable, is very barky bark mouthy and so his alert is to bark,” said Reynolds.

They’re the only ones they know of in the world that do this, and they plan to keep it going.

“We’ve had a lot of successful projects all around the country, and it’s great because we wanna really help clean up the water and make it safe for people to swim and enjoy this beautiful bay that you got here,” said Reynolds.

Logan will be at East Park in Charlevoix Tuesday at 4 p.m. for another demonstration.