Search Animals

With their fabulous noses, dogs (& rats & other animals) can track down hard-to-find animals or plants. In Flanders too, detection dogs are sniffing to help in nature conservation. Learn more about our practice-driven research on ecological detection animals.

What we got to offer:

  • Co-creative research
  • Animal-friendly and eco-friendly
  • Shared knowledge

Dogs are more mobile than humans, allowing them to be deployed in challenging terrains. Their exceptional sense of smell enables them to detect things much better than humans, even those that are not always visible. Additionally, research has shown that search dogs outperform other search methods in up to 90% of cases. Dogs can be trained to detect multiple scents, up to 20 different scents.

Training search dogs requires a significant amount of time and expertise. Additionally, various materials are needed, such as search material, harnesses and leashes, which incur costs. Furthermore, the dogs need to be cared for, fed, and provided with necessary veterinary care. There are also direct costs associated with deploying the animals, such as transportation expenses and the logistical processing of collected data, and there are costs for coordinating the study.

Search dogs can be deployed in a variety of ways. They can be trained to detect both plants and animal species, both on the ground and in trees, underground, or even on water.

They can find both living and deceased individuals, as well as search for feces, urine, hair, saliva, shed skin, and so on. Additionally, they can also search for nesting sites, hairballs, larvae, or eggs.

Search dogs can be deployed for various purposes. They can assist in locating rare and endangered species, facilitating species inventories and monitoring efforts. They can also search for specific individuals and link feces to an individual. Search dogs can also be used to map invasive species.

Additionally, detection dogs can detect scents associated with disease in living animals or in carcasses, as well as in trees. They can detect odors linked to pollutants (such as oil, gas, etc.), even in water. They can locate individuals in natural disasters (after flooding, fire, etc.) or track down illegal activities such as smuggling and poaching. The dogs also serve as a means of raising awareness and education.

While some volunteers are already engaged in deploying ecological search dogs, there hasn't been a comprehensive network established yet. Many organizations are unaware of the potential of search dogs, resulting in their underutilization compared to other countries where they are frequently and successfully deployed.