As I was reading an article today about a a German Shepherd trained to sniff out thyroid cancer, it make me realize we are not using our natural resources as well as we should. We have animal shelters overpopulated with dogs waiting for forever homes, many of them are smart dogs, dogs who should not be in a shelter, all they want is love and companionship.
We have an unbelievable number of homeless and underprivileged in the US right now. There are currently over 600,000 homeless Americans as of 2013. Many of them do not take the time to seek medical help or, in some cases, do not have the time to go to a free clinic. Having done volunteer work with organizations that help the homeless and underprivileged, I know the care in the free medical clinics still need a lot of help. In many situations, there is an expectation of arriving early so you can get your spot on line, only to sit and wait all day.
My proposal is to have teams of dogs trained to go to these clinics, to walk the streets of the homeless, to be the first level of diagnosis for cancer. Dogs can also be trained to detect low blood sugar, low blood pressure, notification of a seizure coming on, and, in some cases, the onset of a heart attack. While some of these abilities wouldn’t help in a clinic setting, the whole point is to get involved with partnering the right dogs with the right handlers to work in areas to cut down the costs of the medical testing.
Using a dog’s ability to detect via scent would help with less evasive screening tests. It would also allow the handlers to walk the streets with the homeless, those not able to afford a bus or a a way to get to the clinics.
Would it solve every medical problem? No, of course not, but it is a start. It is a way to give more dogs in shelters work and a purpose, it is a way to help those less fortunate just a little more.
In addition, more dogs can be trained to detect seizures and oncoming heart attacks, and be given to those in need along with free food and pet care. In the long run, this care would be cheaper than the medical costs a person will incur IF they have a seizure or if they have a heart attack and it isn’t caught quickly. There are so many wins to this!
For further information, here are some good articles to read: