Can Dogs Help Us To Detect Gas Leaks?

Detector dogs can be the worst enemy of the bad guys as they find drugs and firearms in their cars. Dogs’ insatiable sense of smell has made them permanent experts at detecting everything, from banknotes to cancer and bed bugs to diabetes.

You would be amazed to know that dogs can search through miles of gas pipes searching for leaks. Dogs and their extraordinary sense of smell are highly sought after by big oil and gas companies, who have discovered dogs to be legendary at finding small leaks and saving them huge amounts of money. With their sharp noses, our Sherlock detectives outperform technology.

Signs a Dog Can Sense Gas Leaks

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Meet Hunter, a young Husky mix who discovered a gas leak and saved his family. NY Daily News reports that Hunter, a smart Husky mix, was adopted from a local Humane Society. He was asleep on his pet parents’ beds when they woke up to hear him whining. Hunter kept crying even though his new pet mom opened her door, thinking he needed to go outside.

Hunter tried to fall asleep but Hunter wasn’t happy and he gently bit his pet mom to get her attention. Then, he jumped from the bed and spun around before running into the kitchen. His guardians followed him and discovered that gas was leaking from the stove’s burner. It looked like the gas had been on for a while, and Hunter’s owners couldn’t smell it because they had both caught colds. Hunter’s ability detects the gas and know it was dangerous saved the day.

Dogs are excellent detectors and can detect leaky gas in pipelines. Dogs can easily walk miles with their handlers. Once they detect gas, the dog will dig and scratch at the ground to alert the handler. A company’s time and money is saved by having canine partners who are trained to search for oil or gas leaks. The special chemical mixture dogs can detect is fed through pipes and rises through the earth when there’s a gas leak. When the dog smells it, repairs can be initiated.

Natural Gas accounts for one-fourth all energy consumed in the USA. Pipeline 101 says there are approximately 2 million miles of gas pipelines that transport the gas to homes and businesses across the country. A single gas leak can cause disruptions in services for a region until the dogs arrive to find the problem quickly. As they are ready to have fun, they might get a toy or treat if they locate the leak.

Dogs detecting oil and gas leaks: A History

In the late 90’s, Eon Chemical Co got interested in dogs and how they could detect leaks in gas and oil pipelines under the ground. Understanding that woofers could be trained to find a specific scent, the researchers created a chemical called Teckscent.

They cleverly incorporated the dog-sniffing smell into the oil and gas that is pumped through the pipes. Teckscent’s odor would rise through the ground when there was a leak and could be detected quickly by the dogs that had been trained to detect it. OK News snatched this story from the Exxon Oil Company. It was an attempt to minimize the financial and environmental damage that a leak could cause.

Researchers took cues from military sniffer dogs and police K9 dogs to prove that dogs can detect a scent. Labradors were the preferred dog at the time because of their loyalty, perseverance, and willingness to learn. This Canadian dog is one of the most loved family pets on the planet.

Dogs sniffing Teckscent have had a high success rate. They can find the scent even 12 feet below the ground, in areas with soil and clay, as well as on permanently frozen terrain. These determined woofers are able to work in any weather conditions and temperatures. Researchers found that dogs can find a leak faster than a gaschromatograph after extensive testing.

It looks like someone with floppy ears and 4-legs is helping people detect tiny gas leaks across the US and Canada.

The Science of a Dog’s Detector Nose

Dogs have been recognized for their exquisite smelling machine that makes light of detection work and puts expensive equipment in many industries on the shelf.

The dog and his handler can walk long distances through rugged terrain without difficulty. Because pipes are often old and can leak, small leaks may occur. A dog with a sensitivity of 1-2 parts per trillion can detect these fragments. The gas-sniffing mutt can withstand the most sophisticated equipment, but only the natural ability of their ancestral wolf will do.

Although a dog’s brain is smaller than that of a human, its ability to smell things is just as impressive. The woofer’s nose is larger than the Dachshund or Pug, but it has more scent receptors. The canine star of this show is the smell-happy Bloodhound with 300 million scent receptors!

The moment that the learned smell wafts up from below, it is all systems go. A pooch absorbs the scent and has a eureka moment. They then dig to confirm their discovery.

Gas-Leak Dog Training

Dogs have a celebrity sense of smell gifted to them by wolves thousands of years ago. Nature manufactured the perfect smelling engine so the predatory wolf could sense prey well into the distance. The dual effect was a high-tech system that could detect those wanting to dine on a member of the pack.

Nature can be cruel. The wolf had incredible senses to keep them safe and provide food for their offspring. Although their predatory instincts have diminished, our whiffing woofers still possess an incredible sense of hearing and smell.

Since the Middle Ages, Bloodhounds were used by local constables to track down criminals. A Bloodhound was used to track Jack the Ripper in the late 1800s.

The 21 st Century is now, and detector dogs have taken over the world. They can be found at borders and airports looking for illegal substances, as well as using their superior shnozzes in finding gas leaks.

Alaskan dog
Alaskan dog

Dogs can sense almost anything and quickly recognize a specific scent. They are taught to sit, stay and come. We also teach them agility tricks that require them flying over jumps or crawling through tunnels. They are willing woofers who have a degree that teaches human behavior and are easy to train. Police have top dogs such as the Belgian Malinois who track the man who has just committed a crime and the Beagle that is on termite patrol.

Detector dogs Services Limited is a Canadian company that was founded by an ex-policeman who trained landmine detection dogs in Bosnia. Ron Mistafa recognized the potential of dogs being able to detect gas leaks where fancy equipment could not. He gets his dogs from the SPCA and Lab rescue groups like Duke, a yellow Labrador, and Max, a German Shepherd. He is also looking for puppies who can walk the pipelines.

Canines are great detector sleuths because they can pick out specific scents. These canine detectives are able recognize the gas leak by sniffing dirt, plants and after-shave.