Poop Doggy Dog: Sewage-sniffing canine to nose around Birch Bay

Crush, a dog with a particular set of skills.  Photo courtesy Aneka Sweeney

Crush, a dog with a particular set of skills.
Photo courtesy Aneka Sweeney

By Steve Guntli

The Whatcom Conservation District is bringing in an unusual aid to help find sources of harmful bacteria in the watershed.

Crush, a dog trained to identify minute traces of human waste, will put her particular skillset to use in Lynden and Ferndale on April 28, and Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor on April 29.

Crush will be searching for potential sources of fecal coliform bacteria, which stems from human and animal feces and can lead to severe illnesses. The local watersheds in Blaine and Birch Bay have traditionally had higher than normal levels of fecal coliform, which has led to a long-term effort to reduce the bacteria to safe levels.

Crush and her handler Aryn Hervel work for Environmental Canine Services in California, a company that trains animals to seek out sources of pollution in the environment. Locally, Crush previously put her talents to use in Samish Bay and other locations in Skagit and Kitsap counties.

Crush, a terrier-cattle dog mix, is brought to potential trouble spots to sniff around for human or animal waste. If Crush finds what she’s looking for, she signals her handler by lying down near the spot.

People living in the affected areas can do their part by inspecting septic systems and sewage lines for leaks, actively maintaining livestock pastures or planting local trees and shrubs along the banks of local rivers. The simplest and quickest solution, though, is to pick up pet waste and properly dispose of it.

For more information on water quality and fecal coliform testing, visit whatcomcounty.us/1072/Water-Quality.

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