Dogs Making a Difference
There is an organization called the Marshall Legacy Institute that has the purpose of removing land mines around the world using trained mine sniffing dogs.
One of their programs is named CHAMPS, which stands for Children against Mines Program, and gets kids involved in this. I think it’s wonderful because it is all about children helping other children who have been harmed by this tragic situation.
Mines are buried, made of plastic which doesn’t decompose. Long after a conflict has been resolved, these hidden mines can go off maiming and killing innocent people, many of them children. Just another horrendous leftover from the incredible stupidity of war.
Mine detection dogs, trained to sniff for explosives, let their trainers know when they’ve found something suspicious. They are amazingly accurate and problems with false alarms are reduced. In fact, bomb sniffing dogs can cover quite a bit more land in a day than the traditional metal detecting de-mining devices. Some have estimated their efficiency to be about 10 times that of the metal detectors. That’s a lot more land covered, a lot more lives potentially saved. The dogs are able to differentiate between “harmless” pieces of metal and actual explosives, thus the increased accuracy and speed.
The Marshall Legacy has a program lasting 2 weeks that educates children on this topic. Kids gain understanding of this situation and are encouraged to contribute to “adopting” a dog to train in this work. This is so effective, and many such dogs have been trained using the funds collected by willing school children. (They each donate about 25 cents)
These dogs are contributing an invaluable gift to affected countries. Land that has been off limits can be reclaimed for crop growth and water usage. People who have been forced to become city dwellers due to fear of moving around on their own land can return to the life they know. It’s hard to comprehend life in such an affected third world country- the work of organizations such as the Marshall Legacy Institute and others is phenomenal.
If anyone questioned the natural intelligence and ability of a canine, it seems that would be put permanently to rest after learning about the amazing service many dogs provide to mankind. There are some dogs especially suited to this task such as the German shepherd dog and the Belgian Malinois.
From helping a blind person cross the street, to de-mining land in Afghanistan and Rwanda, these brave animals have been of service to humankind beyond what most people could ever imagine.