Dogs In Detection


They enjoy belly scratches, walks, and treats. But dogs are more than just man’s best friend; aside from impressive tricks you can show off to other owners at the dog park, some of our furry friends can be trained for police use, aviation security, and providing assistance in the medical sector.

Dogs can have up to a whopping three-hundred million receptors in their noses. Compared to the measly six million in the average human nose, it’s not surprising that they’d be able to detect things we didn’t even think were possible to smell. The part of the dog’s brain that analyses smells is up to fifty times bigger than ours; they interpret the world through their noses, so it would almost be absurd not to utilise that.

These gentle good boys have been used in the search for the presence of endangered creatures that, by law, cannot be disturbed. The great crested newt, with its declining population, is a fully protected species of newt in Great Britain and Europe. It’s an offence to kill or harm these newts, including their eggs and any sites they may reside in, which can make some construction proposals a little more complicated. Here’s where detection dogs come in.

The dogs are used to locate the newts, and are trained to only indicate that they’ve found the great crested newt; no smooth newts, and no frogs. The use of dogs in this instance is much faster, cheaper, and very accurate. Likewise, this valuable service is also utilised for airport use; a place in which you’d be right to expect the highest levels of security. Detection dogs in the airport are used to assist police in cracking down the location of drugs, firearms, and money amongst passengers and their luggage. Behind the scenes, though, they can also be used to alert us of anything suspicious that may be hidden in cargo.

Enter FREDD.

Free Running Explosive Detection Dogs have been approved by the Department for Transport for use in aviation security. That means these sniffer dogs are an approved method of cargo screening when used alongside other methods, in which they are able to sniff out incriminating threats we don’t want in our cargo. Or anywhere near us, really. After weeks to months of rigorous training, the dogs are able to detect specific substances; once they have received certification, they are then deployed within the controlled environment around the cargo, where they are able to detect the smallest traces of explosives by their vapours.

When used in combination with other methods of screening, the detection dogs allow for larger volumes of cargo to be screened within a smaller time-frame. Very efficient. Of course, the thought of an excited dog jumping up and down around potentially dangerous freight because they’ve discovered a scent might be alarming to some, but worry not. The dogs are trained to tell us they’ve found something with the passive approach; they simply freeze in place.

Now, you might already be thinking about how smart these dogs must be if they’re able to tell us where a specific species of amphibian has been, or if they can detect tiny little vapours from drugs and explosives. But what if I told you they’re also being trained to test out COVID? Yes, COVID-19. Government-funded trials are to take place for six specially-trained medical detection dogs, who have prior to this successfully been trained to detect many other diseases, including cancer and malaria.

‘If successful,’ says Professor James Logan, Head of the Department of Disease Control at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ‘this approach could revolutionise how we detect the virus, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.’ The use of detection dogs for human disease could therefore potentially allow for efficient testing and therefore earlier detection, which, in turn, aids the research for finding cures.

It’s clear to us here that detection dogs are here to stay; evidently, they are able to provide an extra layer of security, a level of which would otherwise have been a bit more time-consuming and costly to achieve. Mixed Freight Services are experts in security screening for Air Cargo Aviation Security, and we support, and recognise, the importance of investing in and researching wider methods of increasing security in Aviation. Using a wide range of methods and techniques ourselves, we take a pragmatic approach to the security screening of every shipment; whether it’s a standard consignment, or more unusual cargo, we’ve got it covered.