Standards of our work with scent detection dogs
These standards are intended to assure that we meet our objectives and guide our operations. The standards are based our experience with specially trained and very active canines. This experience shows the risks exist and reflects the need to establish standards for our handlers and dogs who work in a hospital setting.
Our working dogs are employed to detect reservoirs of clostridium difficile (c-diff). Accordingly, the nature of the surveillance should be addressed by standards requiring high-quality performance of the dogs.
We start with the right type of dog for the intended task. We look for a dog that has a friendly non-aggressive appearance, a dog that is genetically inclined to be a hunter and inclined not to be shy or aggressive towards other dogs or people.
Scent detection dogs are classified as working dogs and are exclusively under the care and control of their handler.
Medical Service Dog Standards
The following Standards have been developed to provide Medical Service Dog Corporation and its partners a common basis for understanding. The standards address many issues involved in the use of a dog for scent detection in a hospital. These Standards are based on the premise that these dogs are trained to conduct reliable and efficient environmental surveillance. The Standards are intended to promote safety and educate clients about the risks and rewards of using a Medical Service Dog.
Standards of Quality
We assure through certification that the dog is sufficiently mature, socialized, and skilled in basic obedience to properly access any area in a hospital. We assure that the dog is trained to recognize the unique scent c-diff and to trigger the appropriate alert behavior. We retain evidence of the dog’s performance sufficient to prove its abilities to perform the expected behavior under the direction of the handler. We retain accurate and complete training and performance records for each dog. We call this "The Book".
Standards of Performance
We disclose expected levels of performance based on the degree of reliability and consistency within which the dog will perform. We will define levels of expected performance to allow our company and the infection prevention and control committee a common goal with which to determine when a surveillance sweep has proven successful. We will define the conditions, time-frame and environments within which the expected levels of performance should be achieved. Our certification of the dog will include consideration of all the elements required for public access as well as the alert capabilities.
Standards of Training and Support
We provide monitoring to assure the development of a consistent and reliable pattern of alerts between the dog and its handler. We provide periodic blind tests of the dog’s accuracy to detect c-diff. It's interesting to note that a dog has a personality, has the ability to think, and even cheat just to get a reward. It is also interesting that dogs performance may decline, but we watch for those conditions.
A handler does more that just hold the end of a leash. His or her responsibility extents beyond supervision and allowing the dog do its work. The handler concurrently observes how air circulates and observes the behaviour of nearby people. In short to do the job and keep the dog and people safe from harm.
The handler/dog team is often accompanied in situ by our nurse, whose duty is to work with the infection prevention and control committee and housekeeping.
Standards of Disclosure
We will disclose any perceived risks to hospital staff, visitors, and patients. We will clearly indicate that the dog’s capabilities are dependent upon the active and continuing efforts of a trained and capable handler. We will disclose all terms and conditions of its services as well as any contractual expectations between Medical Service Dog Corporation inc and the client hospital. We will disclose conditions that may require to cancel or postpone a surveillance sweep.
Duty to the Public
Our dogs are trained to be safe and confident in public places. It is a natural occurrence that people are attracted to animals; and often without forethought and with the best intentions will approach, pet, or feed the dog. Under normal condition the handler will allow people to pet our dogs. (How can you resist all that wagging?)