A charity that trains dogs to detect the odours of human diseases, including cancer and Parkinson’s, has been chosen as the recipient of this year’s RCVS President’s Christmas donation.
The current RCVS President, Dr Kate Richards MRCVS, has chosen to give the £4,000 donation to Medical Detection Dogs, an organisation that teaches dogs to use their incredible sense of smell to support people with complex health conditions and detect diseases at early stages. The charity has also trained dogs to detect traces of Covid-19 on people, with initial tests showing their best performing dog had an accuracy rate of 94%.
Every year, the RCVS President chooses a charity to receive a Christmas donation in lieu of posting Christmas cards, with previous recipients including StreetVet, The American Fondouk, Iris’s Cats in Need and The Country Trust.
When asked about her choice for this year’s donation, Kate (pictured) said: “Medical Detection Dogs is One Health in action, demonstrating the connection and inter-dependency between people and animals. The charity trains dogs to detect the odour of human diseases and is now trialling dogs in real-life settings to detect the odour of Covid-19. Their results indicate that dogs perform better than the lateral flow test. The study, still to be peer reviewed, indicates that using dogs will be considerably faster than existing testing methods since one dog can screen up to 250 people in an hour. Despite the advances in technology, these dogs are at the sniffing edge of science.”
On receiving the donation, Claire Guest, Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, said: “We are very grateful for this generous donation from the RCVS which will help us continue our mission to train dogs to save lives using their amazing sense of smell.
“We share a joint appreciation and understanding of just how incredible our wet-nosed companions are and the work of MDD shows that the future of disease diagnosis could be held in their paws. Our dogs have already successfully proven that they are superior to any technology when detecting the odour of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and malaria and conditions like Type 1 diabetes and postural tachycardia syndrome. Now, at a time when the pandemic is affecting us all either directly or indirectly, they are also on the cusp of being an extra, fast, accurate layer of defence to help keep us safe and keep the world moving.”
More information about the work of the charity can be found at: www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk