Ruger the Service Dog is Putting an End to Zambia Wildlife Poaching
Shelters considered Ruger a “bad dog,” but that’s just what Megan Parker was looking for. As director of research for Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C) in Montana, Parker knows that stubborn dogs make the best students for her trade. WD4C’s mission is to utilize canines’ superior sense of smell for conservation efforts. In Ruger’s case, he has landed in Zambia, where he is responsible for stopping at least 150 poachers.
It was not easy to train Ruger for the job and many were ready to give up on him, yet Parker had faith in his abilities. He was eventually paired with a Zambian law enforcement unit named “Delta Team,” who were initially skeptical of a service dog’s aptitude. After proving himself in being more than capable of sniffing out even the tiniest bit of poaching contraband in car searches, Ruger has gone on to become an essential part of the team.
WD4C executive director Pete Coppolillo said:
“He’s a hero who’s responsible for dozens of arrests and has convinced many skeptics of his detection skills.”
Ruger is rewarded after a hard day’s work with his favorite chew toy, showing that even “bad dogs” are still playful at heart. Coppolillo says that driven, hard-working service dogs are hard to come by, as many of the local Zambian dogs are too docile and dogs trained for military or security trades are not socialized enough for conservation work.
The next time you encounter a stubborn or “bad dog,” remember how their skill set can be used to save vulnerable wildlife, a service which is actually quite good.
Photo credit: Working Dogs for Conservation