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Dogs sniffing for human waste in local waterways | News

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Dogs sniffing for human waste in local waterways

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) -- A pair of specially-trained dogs are following a hot trail to find contaminated waterways in Ottawa County.

WZZM 13 followed the canines sniffing out human waste in local streams. It's probably not a job many people would want, but in a dog's world, it comes with the territory.

"It gets a little nasty out there sometimes; the dogs enjoy it- they think it's a game," says Scott Reynolds, co-owner of Environmental Canine Services.

The dogs, Sable and Logan, are specially trained to sniff out human feces.

"We're trying to locate sources of E. coli," says Reynolds.

Monday, the dogs focused on water samples from Deer Creek in Coopersville. Logan first indicated there were levels of contamination; Sable's response was not as clear.

"[Sable is] not interested in these, which means that if there is human fecal as Logan the first dog indicated, the level is very very low," explained Reynolds.

Local conservation leaders hired the New Hampshire-based company to identify problem areas instead of relying solely on lab testing.

"Aside from the fact that I love being able to utilize dogs in a unique matter and use the skills they already have, it's a quicker and less expensive way to determine where we should focus our efforts," says Becky Huttenga, executive director of the Ottawa Conservation District.

Some people may be wondering why they're spending so much time on one little creek that seems insignificant. However, conservation officials say the Deer Creek connects to some of the biggest waterways in west Michigan

"What happens in these smaller watersheds, way up in Chester Township where it begins, all impacts the Grand River," says Huttenga.

The next step is talking to property owners who may have faulty septic systems and explaining the warning signs.

Tuesday, the specially-trained dogs sniffed water samples from Bass Creek in the Allendale area. The program was paid for by a federal grant. It also includes money to repair problem areas.

The two hard-working dogs get some human benefits too.

"They get to sleep in the bed after we give them a bath of course," says Reynolds.