After a two-year pandemic-related hiatus, the AKC Detection Dog Task Force resumed the AKC National Detection Dog Conference last week in Durham, NC.
The two-day event was attended by more than a hundred terrorism experts, law enforcement officials, U.S. military officials and dog breeders committed to addressing the grave shortage of high-quality explosives detection dogs.
The focus of year’s National Detection Dog Conference was “Bringing together stakeholders to improve domestic availability of high-quality, American-bred, -raised, and -trained dogs to protect U.S. national and public security”.
More than 23 panelists and presenters participated in the event, which emphasized providing practical information of value to all stakeholders, but especially breeders, puppy-raisers, trainers, and buyers.
“The speakers were great,” said Dr. Carmen Battaglia, Co-Chair of the AKC Detection Dog Task Force (DDTF). “They provided thoughtful and useful answers to a wide range of questions.”
Presentations included the following (For more information about conference presentations and panels, visit www.akc.org/edc:
- Federal Procurement of Detection Dogs – What Different Agencies are Looking For.
- Detection Dog Industry Outlook and Forecast.
- National Standards and Certification for Explosive Detection Dogs.
- Scalability Of a Detection Dog Program.
- Early Prediction of Puppies’ Suitability for Detection Careers.
- AKC & Breeding Data – What an Analysis of Top Retriever Pedigrees Reveals for the Development of Detection Dogs.
- Update in Genetic/Genomic Research Impacting Detection Dogs.
“From breeding to puppy training to procurement processes, the conversations had throughout the conference have increased the understanding of the needs of the entire industry,” said Stacey West, Manager of the AKC Patriotic Puppy Program. “We are better equipped to address the shortage of quality detector dogs than ever before.”
The AKC Detection Dog Task Force (DDTF) was established in 2016 to study the specific areas in which the AKC could help address the shortage of high-quality explosives detection dogs crucial to protecting U.S. national security and public safety. Currently, between 80-90 percent of explosives detection dogs used in the U.S. are sourced from overseas.
The DDTF, co-chaired by AKC Board Members Dr. Carmen Battaglia and Christopher Sweetwood, works to address these complex challenges. Other members of the Task Force include AKC Board members Rita Biddle, Dominic Carota, and Ann Wallin; and AKC staff Mark Dunn, Sheila Goffe, Doug Ljungren, Melissa Ferrell and Stacey West. The AKC Government Relations (GR) team provides staff leadership and implementation.
Today, the AKC DDTF represents knowledgeable experts on the complex issue. GR staff focuses on three key areas of outreach to reverse government reliance on overseas dogs:
- Impacting public policy (government relations) including legislation to improve government purchasing policy and practices.
- Outreach to the public and to stakeholders to raise awareness of the issue and the value of dog breeders whose efforts help protect our national security; as well as to share best practices, and create solutions.
- Breeder Education to help U.S. breeders understand the specific requirements for producing and raising a high-quality US- bred, -raised and -trained detection dog. The AKC’s Patriotic Puppy Program and recently-released Confident Puppy online training course provide expertise to help breeders raise dogs that can go on for advanced training as detection dogs or other working or performance careers.