1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
In collaboration with ARS team, the cooperator will train a dog to detect by "sniffing" and alert its handler to the presence of cattle fever ticks (Rhipicephalus (B.) annulatus and R. (B.) microplus) on cattle. The dog will be trained to detect the presence of all life stages of cattle fever ticks on cattle, as well as possibly differentiating between cattle fever tick infestations and infestations by other tick species that are common in the cattle fever eradication zone.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Cooperator will select and adopt a large breed dog to be boarded and trained locally, but not on ARS grounds. In collaboration with ARS team, the cooperator will develop a tick training scent (powder, liquid extracts, and/or frozen ticks) for use in training the dog to develop its detection ability for that scent and conduct exercises on a local ranch with cattle to evaluate the dog's detection abilities. Once the dog passes detection standards, the dog and the training team will, with Moore Air Base approval, be ready to enter the ARS tick quarantine facility near Edinburg, Texas. Develop protocols for tick detection at the quarantine facility. Select permanent handler and new team consisting of non-ARS employees will train together to teach the dog to differentiate between the various life stages of the cattle fever tick, as well as infestations of other tick species. Cooperator will be responsible for housing off grounds of ARS tick quarantine facility near Edinburg. Collaborator will evaluate the dog and handler at end of training process to confirm the team will be ready for full time duty. Cooperator will evaluate the canine team bi-monthly. The canine team owned by the cooperator will need to attend a one-week training course on a yearly basis.
The cooperators have adopted a Black Labrador for use for the project. A variety of scents for the dog were developed by ARS, including various tick extractions in alcohols. These scents were tested with the dog and the dog has begun to alert for the presence of tick extract scent. The trainer working with the dog recently left the company, so the training of the dog has been reassigned to a new trainer. Once the dog has adjusted to its new trainer, trials at the Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory will begin to evaluate the detection ability of the dog on tick infested cattle.