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2 adorable puppies joining B.C.’s cutting edge superbug hunting team

Two Springer Spaniel puppies as introduced as the newest members of the K9 Scent Detection Program.

British Columbia’s superbug hunting K9 team is doubling in size.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is adding two new dogs to its K9 Scent Detection Program.

A bacteria-sniffing dog saving lives at B.C. hospitals
A bacteria-sniffing dog saving lives at B.C. hospitals

The initiative has seen two existing springer spaniels, Dodger and Angus, hunt down the C. difficile bacteria in hospitals since 2016.

READ MORE: Infection fighting dog to make his way to B.C. Interior

“[Their] job is to go up to our highly vulnerable units and … search the environment and help us find areas that are contaminated,” said K9 handler and trainer Jaime Knowles.

“And then our cleaning team can immediately attend and disinfect. It helps to cut down on one of the most common superbugs.”

Vancouver Coastal Health
Vancouver Coastal Health
Vancouver Coastal Health
Vancouver Coastal Health

The Ministry of Health says since the dogs were deployed, they’ve visited 30 different Canadian healthcare facilities.

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VCH infection control officer Dr. Elizabeth Bryce says the program has helped officials discover reservoirs of C. difficile that they would have never suspected and led to a re-evaluation of cleaning procedures.

READ MORE: Angus the C. difficile sniffing dog fully trained to recognize dangerous superbug

“We’re very proud that since the program began we have dropped our rates of C. difficile by 50 per cent,” she said.

“In terms of dollars, at $13,000 a case, that’s a cost avoidance of $2.6 million. But the most important thing is that it has reduced patient suffering.”

Meet Angus, B.C.’s first C. difficile sniffing dog
Meet Angus, B.C.’s first C. difficile sniffing dog

On Friday, the public was introduced to the two newest members of the bug fighting squad, a pair of three-month-old springer spaniel puppies.

The pups will be mentored by Angus and Dodger, and will start with some foundational hunting training where they’ll search for toys and snacks.

After about one year, they will be introduced to scent.

The two new puppies will mentor under the two dogs already working for V
The two new puppies will mentor under the two dogs already working for V Global News

One of the pups has already been named Rockey’s Travelling Girl Gone Abroad, or “Traveller” for short, but the public is being invited to vote on a name for the other dog.

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The shortlist of names is:

  • Olaf, short for Olfactory Sense
  • Clouseau, after the detective from the Pink Panther
  • Finn, after Huckleberry Finn, or
  • Magnum, after Magnum PI

You can vote for your favourite name here.