People & Dogs Who Help the Environment

Every day we can see the effects of climate change caused by Earth’s inhabitants. As world leaders and scientists look for ways to slow, stop and reverse the damage being done, we found three cool dog people who teach us how dog owners and their pups can help in the fight.

Isabelle Groc: The Conservation Canines’ Storyteller

Isabelle Groc was driven from a young age to use the power of images to document environmental issues. It wasn’t until a few years ago, while she was working with a talented pup, Alli, from the organization Conservation Canines, that she turned her talents to show how dogs have a unique talent to help. Isabelle watched as Alli located Canada’s most endangered amphibian, the “Precious Frog,” allowing biologists to understand their habitat and reduce the threats they face.

Conservation Canines use scat detection dogs for non-invasive monitoring of multiple species simultaneously across large areas. Depending on their training, they can detect the scent of scat, noxious weeds and plants, salamanders and more. The talented pups can search tough terrain quickly and more accurately than a human.

“I became fascinated with what those dedicated canines could do, and I wanted to tell their stories,” Isabelle explains. “Dogs can be trained to sniff out just about anything, and our imagination is perhaps the only limit when it comes to potential tasks for these extraordinary canines.”

Benny is another pup Isabelle saw at work. Benny and his talented nose help wildlife officers find illegally trafficked animal products like elephant ivory, rhino horns and shark fins. His partner, Detective Lauren Wendt of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, gives the signal, “Find it,” and that’s exactly what Benny does!

Isabelle also joined Dio and his handler, Collette Yee, on a boat in the Salish Sea (a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean located in the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U.S. state of Washington), where Dio helped researchers find floating orca poop. His keen sniffer and impeccable communication skills allowed him to guide the humans to the specimens before they sank. The recovered scat helps scientists understand the endangered killer whale population and how to help them.

Isabelle shares the stories of these dogs and their work in her book, Conservation Canines: How Dogs Work for the Environment ($24.95; amazon.com). She strongly believes that “Conservation Canines also give us the important message that we can do our part to protect our planet’s biodiversity. Dogs make the world better and can inspire us to do so, too.”

©Courtesy Isabelle Groc

Rose Seemann: The Poop Loop Environmentalist

It was during a lunch break one day in a local park that Rose Seemann became consciously aware of the amount of dog poop that was being tossed into the garbage and eventually pushed to landfills. Since no one else was doing anything about the waste, she decided she would take steps to get and keep dog poop in a useful, safe and helpful recycle loop and help others do the same.

An eco-friendly pet waste management is important for a sustainable future. In her research Rose learned that there are more than 83 million dogs in the United States who together produce 11 million tons of poop each year. “Keeping pet poop in the loop reduces methane emissions — one more tap on the brake for climate change,” she explains.

Rose is a member of the start-up team for the Enviro Pet Waste Network (EPWN), a nonprofit that connects people around the world to share information about keeping pet waste, litter and bedding out of landfills and transforming them into useful soil enhancers. She started the program EnviroWagg, which composts dog waste from dog parks, dog daycares and trailheads in the metro Denver area. Her book, The Pet Poo Pocket Guide: How to Safely Compost & Recycle Pet Waste ($5.07; amazon.com) helps readers compost pet waste safely and shares best practices for cycling pet waste so that it can enrich soil or be harmlessly released back to nature.

Rose’s idea of an ultimate solution is to have municipalities accept dog poop in green bins where it can be processed along with food scraps and yard waste. “This is not a bridge too far!” she exclaims and points to Metro Vancouver where large quantities of animal waste are banned from the garbage and Toronto upping the number of dog waste recycling bins at its parks and using the poo to produce biogas. “The challenge,” she points out, “is convincing authorities to see that it’s safe, doable and a smart move.”

Environment-Friendly Poop Tips By Rose Seemann

✧ Always pick up after your dog. Raw dog poop kills plants and is the third largest non-point source of water pollution.

✧ Compost or sludge from household do-it-yourself systems are rich soil additives. Make sure to use on ornamental plants as it is not safe to use with edible crops.

✧ You can simply bury poop and plant lilacs on top!

✧ For homebound and incontinent dogs, look for reusable pads and cloth diapers that can be cleaned in the washer.

✧ Flushable dog bags are useful for literally transforming poo via your toilet.

Anne Carlson: The Cricket Culinarian

It was Anne Carlson’s daughter, a career in consumer goods and her love of animals that led her down the path of co-founding and leading, as CEO, cricket-based dog food company Jiminy’s.

Boothe, Anne’s daughter, is rightfully worried about climate change and its impact to future generations. Her concern prompted Anne to look into ways she could make a meaningful change. After coming across a UN study that offered insect protein as a solution to world hunger, Anne had an idea — what about dog food?!

Anne shares her favorite new stat, “After a year, 1 acre with cattle will yield 40 pounds of protein while 1 acre with crickets will produce 65,000 pounds of protein.” She points out that in the United States dogs eat 32 billion pounds of protein a year. Switching dogs to an insect-based protein source will drastically reduce the stress on our increasingly concerning land and water shortages. “It’s no contest,” she says, “our insect protein is changing the game.”

Dogs seem to love the insect protein — after all, many will happily snap up an offending cricket off your living room floor if given the chance! A cricket-based protein food is a sustainable and earth-friendly solution. It saves water, land, helps fight climate change and is a humane choice. Jiminy’s crunchy crickets live 80% of their natural lives in temperature-controlled cricket barns and the entire cricket is used in the food.

Add the fact that the insect protein meets all of a dog’s nutritional needs and it seems that even just rotating an insect protein into a dog’s diet now and then can help the environment. Anne points out, “Your dog and the planet will be all the healthier for it.”

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