State-of-the art new building for sniffer dog charity near Milton Keynes and Buckingham
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Medical Detection Dogs, based in Great Horwood, last week officially launched its new John Church Bio Detection Building – a state-of-the-art, world-leading facility for training dogs to detect the odour of diseases such as cancer, pseudomonas and Parkinson’s.
The building is named after Dr John Church, who co-founded Medical Detection Dogs with CEO Dr Claire Guest.
Together, they recognised the huge potential for advancements in human health that were possible by understanding and harnessing the power of dogs’ noses.
The first section of the building was acquired in 2011 and a recent major refurbishment with the addition of a third, bespoke bio-detection training area will enable the charity to progress various bio-detection projects concurrently.
As the charity’s research develops, it need more space to be able to undertake a greater number of projects and help turn its research into reality.
The building was opened by Dr Church and the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Amanda Marlow, with the help of wire-haired dachshund Iggy, who proudly delivered the official scissors for cutting the ribbon.
Dr Church said: “It is fantastic that we have become aware globally of what we can be taught by animals.
"I first heard anecdotal stories about dogs detecting cancer – such as a lady whose dog seemed almost to be a nuisance by nudging at a mole her leg, which turned out to be cancerous, and even a puppy constantly bothering at the neck of one of its litter mates, which transpired to have a cancerous lump in its throat.
"I had no doubt this was true and simply had to work with Claire to investigate the possibilities further.
" The opening of this building is a wonderful moment, as it shows how much progress we have made and how far we have come. And there is still so much to look forward to.”
Charity CEO Claire Guest said: “We’ve worked for many years to prove that dogs can detect disease and always underpinned it with robust scientific evidence, and to do this we need facilities.
”Having spent the last 10 years delivering this strong scientific evidence, we now need to apply this in as many different places as possible and get as many dogs as possible out there saving lives.”
Dr Church, a former orthopaedic surgeon, had always known what a significant contribution animals could make to human healthcare, and introduced a maggot treatment to the NHS which is now used by hundreds of different hospitals.
Fascinated by stories he’d heard about dogs detecting cancer, he had tried and failed to find a dog trainer with the same interest to explore the idea further.
Animal behaviourist Claire Guest heard Dr Church being interviewed on Radio 4 about dogs and disease, and immediately got in touch.
Dr Church helped put together the team for the Cancer Detection proof of principle study, which was published in the British Medical Journal in 2004 and proved to be a springboard for the charity to showcase to the world how dogs could help detect a range of diseases accurately, quickly and non-invasively.