A team of specially trained dogs in the UK are helping the environment and helping utilities save water. “It’s brilliant,” says Luke Jones, handler and co-director of CAPE SPC. Luke co-founded the company with Ross Stephenson in 2016 after serving in the British Army as a dog handler in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their business is one of the few in the world that trains and uses dogs to sniff out a massive problem: leaking underground water pipes. “We see ourselves as pioneers in this field. We developed a service and the dogs do the work, ”says Luke.
Around the world there are millions of kilometers of underground pipes owned by utility companies that move drinking water from sewage treatment plants to homes and businesses. Sometimes pipes leak or break due to age, corrosion, or frost. But since pipes are buried, it is not easy to keep track of exactly where the water is leaking.
Suppliers treat the water with chlorine to kill germs. The dogs are trained to “alert” the smell of the chemical, but it evaporates quickly, so the canines need to be thorough and precise. “It is probably one of the most difficult things to do to train a dog,” says Luke. “You have to work, train and monitor them all the time, because the scent changes all the time, but they do it very well.”
Luke Jones and two members of the company’s water detection team: Denzel and Kilo.
Water protection canines
The company’s water detection package consists of six dogs; two are rescues. “All of our dogs have spaniels in them. Whether (mixed with) Labrador, Springer or Cocker Spaniel, we don’t care as long as a dog can meet our expectations. We (prefer) spaniels because of their drive and longevity for the work we do, ”says Luke.
The canines make a difference in saving water, a precious resource. “I think a lot of people in the world don’t realize that water shortages are terrifying in some places,” says Luke. “We need it to sustain life, and it won’t always be there. In some places they pray for rain and ration the water during droughts. “
Dogs to the rescue
In the military, both Luke and Ross entrusted their lives to the dogs, and now they trust them with their futures. The dogs didn’t let them down. “We did what we set out to do. We achieved it. The dogs are now ready to go every day and we find leaks all the time, ”says Luke. “Being able to do something with an animal that helps the environment is the best job we can have.”
For more information, please visit: cape-spc.com or FB @ CapeSPCUK Many thanks to United Utilities for supporting this project.