Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Kids’ AllergiesAllison Espiritu
Having a child with allergies keeps many parents on edge, especially when they know they can’t be around their child 24/7 to look out for what can be harmful to them.
But our pooch pals have once again come to the rescue with their ability to sniff out even the smallest traces of potential allergens.
Trained just like drug-sniffing dogs in airports, dog trainers all around the world are now using their experience to teach dogs to hunt down peanuts and nuts for children who are at risk of anaphylactic shock.
Dogs are usually trained to raise a paw, abruptly sit in place, or even to put their bodies between the allergic person and the allergen to warn a child if food contains nuts. At birthday parties, grocery stores, playgrounds, and even school, these four-legged friends have become a staple in many classrooms and playtime settings to guarantee the safety of a child’s health.
New Zealand native, Merenia Donne, has been training diabetes dogs and is now training allergy dogs. She tells The New Zealand Herald, that training starts with teaching the dog to detect a jar of peanuts.
“You gradually get smaller and smaller until it is very small traces,” she explains.
Training takes about two years and can cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
“It’s not just about the dog, it’s not just about the allergy. It’s about making sure your kid can exist in a world today so they don’t have a disability.” said Sherry Mers to NBCNews.com. Mers is from Monument, Colorado and started Angel Service Dogs after being inspired by her own families experience of having a trained dog for her 10-year-old daughter Riley who is allergic to peanuts.
Today the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates four of every 100 children have a food allergy and rates are even higher amongst children in preschool. Unfortunately these numbers aren’t dwindling and have only increased by 18 percent from 1997 to 2007 amongst children under 18 years old.
So the next time you wonder if that cookie has hidden nut additions, know that a canine compadre can be a life-changing sidekick.