Train Dogs to "Sniff Out" Landmines & Save Lives

 
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May 19, 2014

"Sniffing out" Landmines and Saving Lives

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:

Jan 16, 2014

Sniffing out landmines in Afghanistan

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:

Oct 15, 2013

MLI Celebrates the 2013 Mine Detection Dog Team of the Year

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

Links:

Jun 10, 2013

Mine Detection Dogs Saving Lives in Azerbaijan

MDD Danik "sniffing out" landmines in Azerbaijan
MDD Danik "sniffing out" landmines in Azerbaijan

The Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) has been assisting Azerbaijan in its mine clearance efforts since 2005, helping the country free its land of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), as a result of the armed conflict with Armenia between 1988-1994.  Despite much progress in removing the mines since the ceasefire in 1994, according to the Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Report, it is estimated that there are still tens of thousands of mines contaminating hundreds of square kilometers.

During the past eight years, MLI has donated twenty-four highly skilled Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA). Although some of the MDDs have retired from work or passed on from old age, the active MDDs Akela, Alma, Beti, Brownie, Canto, Danik, Dexter, Donohue, Duco, Fowler, Gaga, Gavran, Guru, Lipscomb, Marcos, Mojcaand Tessa were incredible assets during 2012, returning more than 1.8 million square meters - the equivalent of 460 acres - of land to the people of Azerbaijan. This is truly an incredible accomplishment for the MDD component and for demining operations.  Their work has allowed thousands of people to return to their homes, grow crops, herd animals, go to school, and live, work and play on the land without fear.

ANAMA has effectively and efficiently used the MDD component to survey suspected hazardous areas and provide quality assurance to areas checked by other demining tools. Most recently, the MDD teams worked in Agcabadi, Fizuli, Goranboy, and Terter districts, where hundreds of square kilometers are extensively contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).  In just the past two months, these life-saving dogs and their handlers have searched more than 400,000 square meters of mine-contaminated land.

Since 2005, MLI's MDDs have searched more than 17 million square meters, or 29,084 acres, of mine contaminated land in Azerbaijan!  In 2013, five of these life-saving MDDs will retire and, in partnership with the ITF: Enhancing Human Security and the Korean Government, MLI is pleased to honor ANAMA's request for five replacement MDDs.  These dogs recently arrived in Azerbaijan to be paired with their new handlers and complete their training.  Each of the retiring MDDs is being adopted by their long-time handlers and will live out the rest of their lives in the comfort that they deserve after such heroic work!
Searching for mines in Azerbaijan
Searching for mines in Azerbaijan

Links:

Feb 7, 2013

Mine Detection Dogs - Saving Lives in Afghanistan

MDD Stryker "sniffs out" mines in Afghanistan
MDD Stryker "sniffs out" mines in Afghanistan

MLI has donated 183 Mine Detection Dogs to 11 war-torn countries around the world. Over the past five years, MLI has given 28 of these life-saving dogs to four indigenous demining organizations in Afghanistan, which has suffered from more than three decades of war and is one of the most heavily mine-affected countries in the world.  In 2012, these amazing dogs searched more than 550 acres of land, impacting tens of thousands of lives, and saving countless people and animals from death or injury.

MLI's focus is on building practical, sustainable, indigenous programs, and so we always partner with local organizations when working in a mine-affected country.  In Afghanistan, the demining organization, DAFA, has received nine of MLI's mine detection dogs.  DAFA recently shared some stories they collected from a number of Afghan villagers who described how much the MDDs have impacted their lives.  The villagers explained that in their district of Deh Sabz, the primary source of income for individuals is agriculture, but severe droughts often make that a difficult livelihood.  Because of that, they had resorted to working for a low daily wage in a nearby market to supplement their income.  

The surrounding mountains are filled with precious and semi-precious stones that could potentially be mined on a small scale by the villagers, which was a very tempting new source of income, but until recently, the entire area was heavily contaminated by landmines.  Last year, DAFA and the dog teams were able to clear the area of the mines, enabling the villagers to immediately begin collecting some of the precious stones.  They shared that they now have a "considerable monthly income compared to the daily wage work, and now 30 households are being supported through this new form of work."  Among these workers, a man named Safiullah shared his personal tragedy, saying: "My elder brother was not aware of the mine threats in and around this mountain and unknowingly came here to attempt to gather some of the stones.  But while he was walking, he accidentally set off a mine, causing an enormous explosion that killed him on the spot.  My poor brother didn't know that he was looking for rocks at the cost of his life.  Several other landmine accidents happened in this area after the death of my brother, including a young boy who stepped on a mine while collecting brush for fire, and many cattle who have been killed from explosions.  With the clearance of this area, we get a sense of safety and can walk around freely.  Now we are living a peaceful and prosperous life."

Formerly mine-contaminated land in Afghanistan
Formerly mine-contaminated land in Afghanistan
MDD Toby locating mines in Afghanistan
MDD Toby locating mines in Afghanistan

Links:

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Project Leader

Tycie Horsley

Arlington, VA United States

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