15 March 2016
The clever canines who staff USC’s Detection Dogs for Conservation program will soon be enjoying their work even more, thanks to a donation of delicious dog treats from Sunshine Coast-based business Huds and Toke.
Detection Dogs for Conservation rescues and trains shelter dogs to assist in ecological research and conservation projects, including tracking koala populations by detecting scats (koala droppings).
The program’s four-legged employees are specially trained to recognise particular scents and not to chase or bark at wildlife, with handlers using treats as positive reinforcement.
Their work will be made easier after Huds and Toke donated $25,000 worth of its custom-made dog treats to the program.
Huds and Toke is a family-run business operated by Russell and Emma Gibbons, who said they were pleased to make the donation – which also includes a percentage of company’s online sales – in aid of conservation research.
“The USC detection dogs are doing awesome work for conservation and endangered animals, and we believe in them wholeheartedly,” Mrs Gibbons said. “We feel the project is a very worthy cause, and also we wanted to give back to USC as a whole.”
Mr and Mrs Gibbons, along with detection dogs Maya and Archie, will attend a special presentation on Detection Dogs for Conservation’s research at USC’s Engage Lab (E1.31) tomorrow from 5pm.
Other special guests include local 13-year-old conservationist and YouTube star Miller Wilson and a koala named Pipin, who was found by the USC detection dogs after she escaped from Woombye’s Wildlife HQ (previously Queensland Zoo) in January.
USC Research Fellow Dr Romane Cristescu, who is the owner and handler of detection dog Maya, said Huds and Toke’s generous contribution would be valuable to the program, which needs donations to help cover the cost of food, training and vet care.
Detection Dogs for Conservation has also launched a crowdfunding initiative to assist in the recruitment of new detection dogs. The campaign runs until the end of March. For more information go to https://chuffed.org/project/usc-detection-dogs-for-conservation.
— Jarna Baudinette