BAZ – AFB Detection Dog – WORLD FIRST 2013
Use of a Sniffer Dog in the Detection of American Foulbrood in Beehives.
Training of the sniffer dog: The animal was trained according to internationally recognised standards and protocols for detection dogs. Obedience training was followed by conditioning of the dog to recognise and indicate the correct AFB odour. The dog was conditioned to ignore odours of foundation, frames, fresh, healthy brood as well as European Foulbrood (EFB) with and without Paenibacillus alvei. The dog was also conditioned to ignore the odour from all vessels the target odour was provided in. This was done by offering the sterile, 5mL polypropylene tubes for instance, and the dog conditioned to ignore the odour thereof.
The first stage of training involved obedience and searching techniques. A mock apiary was constructed. Thirty painted bee boxes and lids, complete with one or two frames and wax foundation was supplied and used to construct a mock apiary. Once the dog has learnt the searching techniques, the trainer began teaching the dog to detect the odour of AFB. This stage was followed by conditioning the dog to ignore other odours associated with the hive. The dog was also trained to ignore odours emitted by EFB and brood infected with P. alvei.
Suit: A suit was made for the dog. The aim of this was to allow the dog to comfortably walk through the apiary without fear of being stung and without impairing its sense of smell. Materials were sourced by Joshua Kennett, the owner, using a local canvas business to sew the suit.
The author would like to thank John Covey for making available a number of his hives for the trial, as well as assisting with the sampling. I would also like to thank the Apiary officers of DAFF, Queensland (John Zigterman, Hamish Lamb and Patricia Swift) and Howard Prior from the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory who did the organisation and sampling of the hives with minimum input from me while I was nursing a very sick child in hospital. The trainer, Martin Dominick, also went above and beyond to accommodate difficult timelines. The owner of the dog, Josh Kennett was a delight to work with and a great help with the sampling of the hives for the trial. Thanks to Elroy, the dog that did not make it due to hip problems and finally: Thanks to Baz, Australia’s first and only AFB Sniffer dog!