Search and rescue dogs are becoming an increasingly popular and effective resource in terms of locating survivors after a disaster. However, there are still a number of improvements that could be made. As such, researchers at North Carolina State University have been looking into ways to help them work more efficiently.Ideally, the entire search and rescue process would be automated through drones and robots, thereby putting the fewest amount of lives at risk. However, because robotics has yet to match the cognition and sensory abilities of dogs
, we still rely on our canine companions to help us sniff out lost hikers or people buried during a natural disaster.RELATED STORY: Help Aide the Rescue Dog Heroes of the Oso Mudslide
But just because we must continue to send our furry friends into the fray, doesn't mean we can’t make an effort to keep them safe. Giving a search-and-rescue dog the ability to monitor their vitals, collect footage of the rescue, communicate remotely with a handler, and take reading of the immediate area is going to change the way we use dogs during a rescue mission, making them incalculably more useful, and safer to boot.
HOW SCIENCE IS HELPING
Because of the various advantages and hang ups about using search and rescue dogs, the researchers are hard at work developing hi-tech harnesses and vests
that could vastly improve a search and rescue dog’s efficacy. Add-ons like radios, microphones, cameras, environmental sensors, and heart-rate monitors are all being tacked on to vests and harnesses in hopes of making our rescue pups safer and more effective in the face of danger. "We have developed techniques and technological platforms to improve the efficiency of search-and-rescue dog training and to augment the current capabilities of search-and-rescue dogs in the field," said Alper Bozkurt and David Roberts, researchers at North Carolina State University.When a rescue dog is sent out to scope out a possible gas leak, having a monitor on their harness that can signal when gas is detected or when the dog’s vitals begin to drop could save countless service dogs’ lives.RELATED STORY: 3 Tips for Pet-Friendly Emergency Preparedness
With a camera and microphone on a rescue dog's vest, we can now get a dog’s-eye view of a disaster area, as well as communicate with them remotely. This means that we will now be better able to detect when a dog enters a dangerous situation, and give us the ability to call them back from the safety of a remote location. Also, we will be able to give them commands from a safe distance, no longer requiring a handler on the scene.What do you think about making rescue dogs more technologically advanced? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.