Train Dogs to "Sniff Out" Landmines & Save Lives

 
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MDD Betsy and Alden
MDD Betsy and Alden

  Thank you for your continued support of the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI)!  Because of your generous donations, MLI's life-saving Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) were able to "sniff out" more than 1,500 acres of mine-affected land in the past two years!   One of these remarkable dogs, MDD Betsy, has been working in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  MDD Betsy has been working with her handler, Alden Cesko, since 2009 at the Federal Administration of Civil Protection (FACP), which is doing great demining work in Bosnia with MLI's donated MDDs.  

  Alden and Betsy have formed an incredible bond over the past five years, as they work together daily to ensure that the people of Bosnia are safe from the deadly dangers of landmines. This year, FACP nominated Alden and Betsy for MLI's prestigious Mine Detection Dog Team of the Year Award, which is given to the top performing MDD team in the world.  In their nomination for Alden and Betsy, the FACP stated that, “Alden Cesko is one of the most respected and trusted handlers in the Federal Administration of Civil Protection. On many occasions his professionalism, personal bravery, technical expertise, and attitude towards work have made the key difference on tasks in which he was engaged. But what is the most inspiring about Alden is the love that he shares with his dog, Betsy.

   The trust and confidence that everybody at FACP has in this team regularly causes Alden and Betsy to engage in the most difficult demining tasks and in the most challenging situations in the field. For example, last year, during heavy forest fires, it was essential that fire trucks reach a town that was in danger of being completely engulfed by flames. With the fires blocking the roads into the town, the fire trucks' only other option was to gain access to the town through a nearby field that was known to be contaminated by landmines.  In almost unbearable conditions Alden and Betsy led a search party that cleared the path through the minefield and enabled the fire trucks to reach the fires and save the town from destruction."

   MDD Betsy and Alden have also performed heroic work during the past 9 months, following the catastrophic floods that hit Bosnia and Herzegovina in May 2014. In addition to the terrible damage directly inflicted by the floods, another major issue has been the number of landmines that were washed out of marked mine-fields and into new and unknown locations.  Since the floods, landmines have been found in people's yards and in heavily populated areas that had previously been cleared of all mines.  Working in very difficult conditions and wading through piles of debris left behind by the floods, MDD Betsy and Alden have been searching for mines and UXO in these new unmarked areas, where it is suspected that mines may have drifted with the flood water.  They have located dozens of landmines in these searches, saving countless lives.

  Together, MDD Betsy and Alden have searched more than 60 acres of mine-affected land in Bosnia and Herzegovina, enabling thousands of people to use their land safely without fear of landmines.  Their hard work and dedication made MDD Betsy and Alden very deserving of MLI's 2014 Mine Detection Dog Team of the Year Award!  

  

Searching for landmines
Searching for landmines
Betsy "sniffing out" landmines
Betsy "sniffing out" landmines
Playtime!
Playtime!

Links:

MDD Country in Afghanistan
MDD Country in Afghanistan

Thank you for your continued support and interest in the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) and our humanitarian programs.  Your support of our Mine Detection Dog (MDD) program through GlobalGiving has made a real difference in the lives of people living in mine-affected communities around the world.  One of the most effective tools for finding landmines are highly trained MDDs that are able to “sniff out” the landmines, which are often small, plastic, and buried in the ground. By expediting the rate at which land is cleared, the MDD teams not only save lives, but also positively impact the socio-economic growth of fragile post-conflict countries and the likelihood that these countries will remain at peace. In each country where MLI has developed an MDD capacity, the beneficiary countries have gone onto expand their MDD programs, recognizing the great value that they provide.

Over the past 17 years, MLI has provided 199 highly trained mine detection dogs to mine-affected countries around the world. Currently, MLI has 106 MDD teams actively working in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon and Sri Lanka. 

Your generous support of our Mine Detection Dog Program has helped us continue to expand our program in countries like Afghanistan, where we have donated 28 life-saving dogs.   Two of these dogs, MDDs Country and Spirit, are working with the Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA) and have spent the first half of 2014 searching mine-affected land in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, where demining is vital for reconstruction efforts, rehabilitation, and the peace and stability of the surrounding communities. Country, Spirit, and their MDD colleagues have searched over 94,356 m2, or 23.32 acres, of mine-affected land in the past few months! They have located dozens of landmines and unexploded ordnances, saving countless lives.  Indeed, in the past two years, MDD Country has located 83 landmines and 985 unexploded ordnance (UXO)! He also sniffed out 18,645 fragments of UXO and mines that were still contaminated by explosives and considered dangerous.  

Recently, DAFA assessed the socioeconomic impact of minefield clearing. Its findings show that local communities have already started using the cleared land for various purposes, which has significantly improved their social and economic status. The DAFA team interviewed many members of the impacted communities and were pleased to hear the overwhelmingly positive responses and appreciation for their demining efforts. For instance, the team interviewed Jumal Gul Khan, a community leader from the Tarilay Village, Rodat District, who answered the following questions:


1. Were the mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) causing you problems before the demining process? If yes, what sort of problems?
Mines and ERWs were a big threat and a huge obstacle in our daily activities. We were unable to use our lands for cultivation, grazing of animals, or firewood collection. Even our children were in trouble while playing around the mine-contaminated areas.
2. Do you know who requested that the mines be cleared?
We collectively consulted to rescue our villagers from this hidden enemy in order to utilize our land to fulfill our economic needs, rather than leave the country and work as daily wage earners.
3. What difference, if any, will it make in your life when the clearance is completed?
After the clearance of our land from the threat of mines & ERWs, we will be able to cultivate our lands, graze our animals, and send our children to school or anywhere else without fearing for their safety; I could give you many other examples.
4. Can you give a specific example of a benefit that you expect? For example, how much money will you make from cultivating the land?
As you know, in Afghanistan many people depend on farming; agriculture allows Afghans to feed their family members; this is the biggest example of a benefit. […] Once my land is cleared, I will stop working as a porter and will return to working my own lands. Thus, I will no longer have to work for others, and all the income I generate will remain mine.

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Thanks to your continued support of our programs, MLI has been able to help people like Jumal and our dogs have been able to "sniff out" dangerous explosives and save and impact thousands of lives. Mine-safe land has brought peace and security to entire communities in countries like Afghanistan; parents no longer fear for their children as they walk to school, animals can graze freely, and more land is available for farming. Because of the generosity of caring, global citizens like you, entire communities are able to live in peace and security.

MDD Country searching for landmines
MDD Country searching for landmines
MDD and handler training in simulated mine-field
MDD and handler training in simulated mine-field

Thank you for your support of the Marshall Legacy Institute and our humanitarian work.  Your generous support of our Mine Detection Dog Program on Global Giving is enabling us to provide even more dogs who are "sniffing out" landmines and saving lives all around the world.  We have donated 195 life-saving dogs to 11 countries, and just last year, our active dogs searched more than 3 million square meters of mine-affected land, or 750 acres!

In countries like Iraq, MLI has provided 12 Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to the Iraqi Mine & UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) to search for landmines.  In just the past few months, these heroic dog teams searched 63,400 square meters, or approximately 15 acres, of mine-contaminated land near Basra. IMCO has embarked on a large, multi-phase project to clear 4 million square meters of land in the Shatt Al-Arab district, a district within the Basra Governate.  The district is at the mouth of the Euphrates and Tigris River and is an important hub for business, transportation, and tourism, but in recent years, the industries have suffered as a result of the dangers posed by landmines in the area. This area also was historically home to the largest date palm forest in the world. In the mid-1970s, the region included 17 to 18 million date palms, an estimated one-fifth of the world's 90 million palm trees. But by 2002, war and the consequences of war, like landmines, had wiped out more than 14 million of the palms, and the remaining 3-4 million trees are now in very poor condition.  Thanks to the work of MLI's MDDs, this area is progressing towards becoming mine-safe, and the Iraqis are hopeful that this will not only allow the local economy to prosper, but that eventually the area will once again be home to millions of healthy date palm trees.  The dogs are saving countless lives and enabling people to farm on land that has been off-limits to them for years. 

Three weeks ago, MLI’s President, Perry Baltimore, visited IMCO and was able to spend some time with each of the MDDs and their handlers.  Perry was very impressed by the teams and spent time speaking with each handler, including Ali Naim, who said that he really enjoys being a dog handler and has become quite attached to his MDD.  He mentioned that he often brings his dog home with him to play with his young children and that the dog is incredibly friendly and well-behaved.  He said they also spend a lot of time continuing to train in IMCO’s simulated mine-field to ensure that they stay in peak condition for their field-work around Basra.  Perry was able to watch them train and was pleased to see how well the MDDs are able to quickly and accurately locate the presence of a mine’s explosive odor.  All of the dogs also clearly enjoys the work!

Thank you for your support of the Marshall Legacy Institute and our humanitarian programs!  We are so pleased to be able to share with you the life-saving working being done by our MDDs around the world.   Thanks to your generosity, these incredible dogs are able to impact the lives of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children and are making the world a safer place for children to play, people to work, and communities to grow without fear of landmines.

MDD Team working in a mine-field near Basra
MDD Team working in a mine-field near Basra
MDD Team working in a mine-field
MDD Team working in a mine-field

Links:

MDD Abrams searching for mines
MDD Abrams searching for mines

Over the past seven years, the Marshall Legacy Institute has donated 28 life-saving Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to four indigenous demining organizations in Afghanistan.  One of these organizations, the Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), recently submitted a report to MLI detailing the great work being done by MDDs Abrams, Stryker, and Toby,who searched more than 102,000 square meters (25 acres) of mine-contaminated land in 2013!  ATC reports that the MDDs have directly impacted the lives of 3,207 families, or 22,005 individuals since the beginning of 2013. 

 
Mohammad Khalid lives in one of the communities that was recently searched by the MDDs and is very appreciative of the work done by Abrams, Stryker, and Toby.  In an interview with the ATC, he described the impact landmines have had on his community:  
 
"Mines were laid in our community and in the surrounding areas by the ex communist regime, and during the civil war by Mujahidin to protect Kabul city against the attack of opposition groups. The existence of mines in the area caused all of us a lot of difficulties.  A man was killed, and we have lost several sheep and goats to landmine explosions, as well; additionally, a tractor vehicle was seriously damaged. We could not graze our livestock in these areas and were not able to collect bushes or wood for making fire. Moreover, accessing construction materials found in this area was impossible.   

"Clearing these areas was a very high priority for our community, so local representatives asked that they be cleared as soon as possible.  After clearance we have enjoyed a big change in our lives. It is a great example of the outcomes from mine clearance, as we now have full access to the cleared lands, and we are able to use them for the aforesaid purposes without fear or concern. The cleared lands are a major source of income for our families." 
                                                                                                                    -- Mohammad Khalid

Thank you for your continued support of the Marshall Legacy Institute's
Mine Detection Dog Partnership Programs around the world! By donating
to our project on Global Giving, you have truly made a difference in the lives
of thousands of people. We wish you peace and happiness in the New Year,
and hope we can count on your support in 2014! 


MDD Toby searching for mines in Afghanistan
MDD Toby searching for mines in Afghanistan
MDD Toby
MDD Toby
MDD Stryker locates a landmine
MDD Stryker locates a landmine

Links:

MDD Dexter and Mansur in the field
MDD Dexter and Mansur in the field

Last week, on October 9, 2013, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) celebrated its 16th anniversary by holding its annual Clearing the Path Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC.  Nearly 300 guests helped MLI honor leaders whose extraordinary efforts have improved lives in war-torn countries.  One of these honorees was MLI's Mine Detection Dog (MDD) Team of the Year and MLI was very pleased to be able to recognize the incredible work of MDD Dexter and his handler, Mansur Aslanov. This incredible team has been working together since 2006, searching more than 1 million square meters of mine-affected land in Azerbaijan and saving countless lives.  

Each year, MLI's partner organizations in mine-affected countries nominate mine detection dog teams that not only have worked very hard to locate landmines, but that also have a special human/dog bond that makes them unique. This year the competition was very stiff, with nominations from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka.  Each dog team had its own impressive story, such as MDD Tornado and his handler in Lebanon, who located a booby-trapped landmine that was hidden next to a village and could have killed many children.  Ultimately, though, MLI selected MDD Dexter and Mansur from Azerbaijan because of the sheer quantity of land they had searched, the number of mines they had located, and the stories that clearly demonstrated their strong bond and love for each other.

MDD Dexter and Mansur work with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), which told MLI that they had nominated this particular team because, “MDD Dexter is one of the best MDDs that ANAMA has ever had since the establishment of the MDD program, and we hope that we will benefit from this team’s outstanding performance for as long as possible, before MDD Dexter goes to his well-deserved retirement.  Dexter has saved many lives by finding explosive ammunitions in the areas that he has searched.  He has never missed a mine!”

According to ANAMA, “In the minefield, Dexter and Mansur are the best team ever. Mansur has such a great confidence in Dexter, and that trust motivates other mine detection dog teams to work harder and build such a relationship. Mansur loves his dog so much and takes good care of him, and Dexter returns that love by being Mansur’s best friend.” 

Thanks to your support of the Marshall Legacy Institute's Mine Detection Dog program, dogs like MDD Dexter are able to search millions of square meters of mine-affected land and save countless lives. MLI was so pleased to be able to honor this great MDD Team at our 2013 Clearing the Path Gala!

MDD Dexter and Mansur
MDD Dexter and Mansur
MDD Dexter and Mansur search for mines
MDD Dexter and Mansur search for mines

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Project Leader

Tycie Horsley

Arlington, VA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Train Dogs to "Sniff Out" Landmines & Save Lives