The In Situ Foundation based in Chico, California, has spent the last 12 years developing scientific protocols that are needed to train cancer detection dogs and their handlers. In collaboration with top research universities including Duke and UC Davis, they rescue dogs and train them to sniff out specific cancers. All training is reward based.
What I particularly like about this registered charitable foundation is their mission to use rescue dogs “Our mission is to use shelter/rescue dogs whenever possible. We adopt dogs and give them loving homes, so what could have been a dog on death row, is now being trained to save human lives. All dogs are “super sniffers”, so we do not believe in breeding them, or creating a “super sniffer” breed.”
The dogs of In Situ live in residential homes with their adoptive families. Their day jobs are to go to work at the Foundation.
Here are the current dogs in the In Situ team:
Stewie is a 5 year-old, female, Australian Shepherd. She has been one of In Situ’s best dogs, and has been trained to detect early stage lung, ovarian, and breast cancer. She was one of our star dogs in a 2012 ovarian cancer study, and she is also on Duke University’s canine team for breast cancer. Stewie has also competed in agility, obedience, and is a certified therapy dog with Pet Partners and LA Children’s Hospital, where she visits sick children. Stewie was nominated for the 2015 American Hero Dog Award, given by the American Humane Association. Stewie is a beautiful, loving, smart and talented dog, who loves her work more than anything, except the frisbee.
Leo is a 2 year-old, male German Shepherd, that In Situ Foundation adopted from Westside German Shepherd Rescue. Leo was on death row, and he was scheduled to be euthanized. He is a wonderful, loving, friendly and well-trained dog, and he’s very valuable to In Situ’s team. Leo is on the team of dogs working in conjunction with Duke University on a two-phase, breast cancer trial.
Charlie is the newest addition to the team. She is a six week-old German Shepherd from champion lines (from Nadulhaus German Shepherds) and will be one of the first dogs in the world trained on upper thoracic (head, neck and throat) cancer, using saliva samples. After 12 to 18 months of training with In Situ Foundation, she will be owned and loved by Dr. Peter Belafsky (University of California, Davis) and will work with him to sniff samples in clinical trails, which will help advance protocols to detect cancer at its earliest stages through olfaction.
Linus is a 3 year-old male German Shepherd who was also on death row, and adopted by In Situ Foundation. He was returned to the shelter three times by his previous owner. When he came to our ranch and got his first “job”, it literally transformed Linus’s life. Linus went from a small “jail cell” to a life of love and play. He’s happy, balanced, and well adjusted, and he’s the most loving boy around! Linus loves his work, and he’s a gem on our cancer detection team. Linus also works on the Duke team of breast cancer detection dogs.
Alfie is another new addition to the In Situ team. He will be owned and loved by Dr. Hilary Brodie, Chair of Otolaryngolgy at University of California, Davis. Alfie is a Labradoodle (Lab/Poodle hybrid) who will also be trained to detect upper thoracic cancers, and he will be working toward advancing bio-detection by canines at UC Davis.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand