Dogs Are Working to Save Cultural Heritage in Unprecedented Training Program

Dogs Are Working to Save Cultural Heritage in Unprecedented Training Program

A new group of working dogs are sniffing out smuggled artifacts and saving cultural heritage. The Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law & Policy Research, the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center and the Penn Museum are working together on a program called the K-9 Artifact Finders research program.

In the first phase of the project, researchers are conducting initial scent imprinting of three types of artifacts -- lawfully excavated, properly documented and illegally imported. Once that is completed, the dogs will be taught odor discrimination. A Penn Vet Working Dog Center press release says during Phase I dogs will focus on objects from the Fertile Crescent region of modern-day Iraq and Syria.

If Phase I is successful and additional funding is obtained, researchers hope to move onto Phase II, on-the-ground testing, and then Phase III, creating a demonstration program for customs officials in the U.S. and abroad so they can use dogs to protect cultural artifacts.

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