Extremely trained dogs play an integral duty in the United States military. Some 1,600 pooches work alongside soldiers while performing such vital tasks as detecting explosives and tracking down targets. Earlier this year, for example, a army dog named Conan got his moment in the spotlight after assisting unique military forces kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria.
Now, as John Vandiver of Stars and Stripes records, the Army is developing new technology that will certainly better protect the ears of K-9 companions while they’re on the task. Like human workers, army dogs are frequently revealed to high levels of noise during training and on the field– and like people, they are susceptible to temporary and long-term hearing loss.
” Also a short helicopter flight can impact a dog’s hearing, leading to damaged efficiency and inability to hear the handler’s commands, which can hinder the mission,” says Stephen Lee, senior researcher at the Military Research Study Office.
Hearing protection systems are currently available for military canines, but the devices are rigid and hard to place on the dogs. So with support from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, the clinical device company Zeteo Technology has been working with Peter Scheifele, executive director of the animal acoustics lab Fetchlab, to develop better gear.
The product, referred to as the Canine Auditory Protection System (or CAPS), is a little hood made from acoustic absorption materials that block loud sounds. The hood is light-weight and flexible, assisting it fit easily on a canine’s head while also sealing its ears from extreme noise. CAPS is just an inch thick, so it isn’t cumbersome to canines operating in tight spaces and can be worn with other protective gear, like goggles.
According to the Army Lab, the study team tested CAPS “extensively” on military and government enforcement dogs “for wearability, usability and comfort.” Tests performed throughout helicopter operations apparently showed “a significant reduction in temporary hearing loss.”
This isn’t the first time the protection officials have invested in technology to maintain military dogs safe. In 2017, for instance, Kyle Stock of Bloomberg reported that the Department of Defense was purchasing highly realistic dog mannequins– some of which had a pulse and an inner bag that mimics breathing– to help train medics to care for injured canines. It isn’t simply the pooches’ well-being that goes to risk; the need for specialized working dogs is high, and the animals are expensive to acquire.
” With terrorists targeting public transportation and tourist sites all over the world, global demand for bomb-sniffing dogs has actually surged,” Supply composes. ” Dogs with finely educated noses currently fetch $25,000 and up on the open market, where border patrol units, the State Division, and private security companies go with dog skill.”
According to Vandiver, it is not yet clear when CAPS will certainly become available to units that deal with military dogs. But researchers have high hopes for the hoodie’s capabilities. “This new technology will extend canines ability to work in a wide range of environments, and empower a broader use for army working dogs in operations,” says Lee.
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