US DHS S&T Awards Funding to Auburn University for Detection Canine Research and Development

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced a $24 million contract, awarded over five years, to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine (AUCVM) to support research & development (R&D) in the detection canine field. The award, funded under the S&T Detection Canine Program, will explore ways to improve the availability and efficacy of detection dogs, which are vital in protecting our Nation’s borders, transportation hubs, major public events, and more. To achieve this goal, AUCVM will study detection dogs’ odor detection skills, seek new ways to make domestic detection dogs more available, improve ways to identify suitable detection dogs, and optimize domestic detection dogs’ overall welfare and longevity.

“Canines are an important tool in support of the S&T mission to prevent and respond to national security threats. No other animal or technology has the ability to locate and track odors to source in real time,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for S&T. “I look forward to continuing our work with Auburn University to improve the Department’s ability to effectively and humanely field detection canines across the country.”

The S&T Detection Canine Program focuses on providing DHS operational components and the larger Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) with the tools, techniques, and knowledge to better understand, train, and utilize detection canines. Together, the S&T Detection Canine Program and AUCVM will bring the latest scientific advances in areas such as canine genomics and mass spectrometry odor analysis from the lab to application in the field.

AUCVM will also support the assessments for canine teams in the HSE while developing new understandings of optimal handler characteristics and training approaches.

“People tend to see detection canines as a standard law enforcement capability that has remained the same over time,” said Guy Hartsough, S&T Detection Canine Program Manager. “In reality, our work with academic partners has produced notable improvements in how we can rely on detection dogs, and we are excited to see what next-generation capabilities the AUCVM team can bring to the table.”