We much enjoy thinking and brainstorming, and have some young ideas that we’d like to develop. First, we’d need to figure out how to manufacture more time! If you have any thoughts to add, you must let us know.
Contagious illness affecting Irish livestock
It seems terrible, both economically and from an animal welfare point of view to destroy entire herds because illness is detected too late in just a few animals. From watching medical detection dogs that are able to smell conditions like cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s in humans, we know for certain that illness has a scent.
This has led us to believe it should be possible to train our dogs to detect contagious illness in livestock very early on, isolate sick animals, and treat or destroy only a fraction of herds. To do so, we would start off with the most pressing issues identified by Teagasc.
Other than charming the socks off everyone they meet, the Irish also excel in the cattle and racehorse industry.
Anyone knowing anything knows that successful breeding of cows and horses takes time and is costly. When breeding animals – pedigree or other – owners want to know as early as possible if conception was successful. Quite often it was not. A minimum of 14-16 days must go by before any traditional method can reliably detect pregnancy, and it needs considerable expertise. Fertilization, being not just romance but also a chemical process, likely has a scent that may be detectable before more invasive blood, urine works or ultrasounds can be done. By then, the stallion or bull has often gone off to new, exciting, greener pastures. The life!
Involving detection dogs to determine conception could be a much faster, gentler (gentle is good – we all know of, or are, hormonal creatures) and cost effective step before calling in veterinary help. http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2012/10/11/options-pregnancy-testing-mares/ for more information.
Illness in Irish native trees
Because Ireland is an island, it thankfully suffers from fewer tree diseases than most other European countries. However, we have growing reason to worry about our Ash Dieback and Sudden Oak Death – diseases that also spread to other trees. Destruction is almost always required. We would like to have a serious go at training dogs to detect the symptoms of early stage illness, which could then still be contained.