Dog’s special detection skills outlined

Dogs have traditionally made the world a better place because they give unconditional love.

Now the world is even better because of dogs like Freida, who can sniff out cancer and other diseases, and increase the rate of early detection and treatment.

Yesterday, Columba College pupils got to meet the medical detection dog from K9 Medical Detection New Zealand (K9MD), after raising more than $1000 for the trust.

Columba College deputy principal Jenness Riethmaier said inspiration for the fundraiser came from a parent at the school who was being treated for ovarian cancer, and she suggested the funds go to the trust.

"It’s wonderful. I think it’s a very exciting programme.

Columba College pupils Maia Joseph (left) and Jess Cowie (both 18), with K9 Medical Detection dog...
Columba College pupils Maia Joseph (left) and Jess Cowie (both 18), with K9 Medical Detection dog Freida during a school assembly yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

"Ovarian cancer is one that’s very hard to detect until it’s in the stages when it is almost untreatable.

"We all know someone who’s been affected by cancer, and I think anything we can do to help support early detection is well worth supporting."

Freida and trust founder and director Pauline Blomfield were at the school’s assembly yesterday, to talk about some of the work the funding would help.

She said the trust’s mission was to improve the health of all New Zealanders by using specifically trained dogs like Freida, working in a controlled clinical environment to assist in the detection of cancer and other diseases by sniffing blood, urine and other bodily fluid specimens.

Many diseases and disease-causing agents give off odours (volatiles), and medical detection dogs can identify these volatile organic compounds.

By training dogs to detect these specific odours, it is possible to minimise the spread of the disease and identify at-risk patients sooner.

Cancers detected at an early stage were more likely to be treated successfully, and starting the treatment while the cancer was small and confined greatly improved the survival rate, she said.

While there were sophisticated laboratory diagnostic tests for many cancers, some cancers had no screening, were difficult to detect, and were diagnosed as an extensive disease.

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