Mine Detection Dogs
MLI launched the Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program (MDDPP) in 1999. The program utilizes government and private donations to purchase, train and deliver Mine Detection Dogs (MDDs) to landmine removal organizations within a mine-affected country. There are currently more than 900 MDDs working in 24 countries; MLI has donated more than 240 of those dogs. Since launching the MDD program, MLI’s life-saving dogs have searched more than 47 million square meters of mine-contaminated land (see our Where We Work page), saving countless lives! Learn how to fully sponsor a life-saving MDD or join our Share-A-Dog program!
What We Do
MLI’s longest running program is the Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program, which provides highly trained explosive-sniffing dogs to the neediest of countries, and trains local handlers to safely & effectively employ the lifesaving dogs. The success of the program is measured by MLI’s ability to satisfy urgent operational requirements/requests from contaminated countries, and by assessing the long-term care, sustainability, and effectiveness of the indigenous human-dog team capacities that are developed in each country. MLI has successfully established and/or expanded indigenous explosive detection dog programs in Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Eritrea, southern Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Yemen. By searching for mines and accelerating the pace of clearance operations, the MDD teams not only save lives, but also positively impact the socio-economic growth of fragile post-conflict countries and increase the likelihood that these countries will remain at peace. In each country where MLI has developed an initial MDD capacity, the beneficiary countries have greatly expanded their MDD programs, recognizing the great value that the heroic animals provide.
MLI adheres to international standards for training and certifying each of its dog-handler teams to ensure that the MDDs can safely, effectively & reliably locate landmines and other explosive remnants of war. MLI’s MDD teams typically search up to 30 times faster than manual deminers can search in a given period time, without sacrificing safety or accuracy. None of MLI’s MDDs have ever been killed in a landmine clearance operation.
Learn more here about which countries our MDDs work in.
MDDs are a crucial component to mine action programs because of their incredible sense of smell, which allows them to “sniff out” the explosive odors of landmines.
Unlike metal detectors, tools commonly used in demining, a dog is able to locate both metal and plastic landmines. An MDD works in a team with a human handler; the team can search up to 30 times faster than a manual deminer without compromising accuracy.
When properly integrated with other technologies (manual demining and machines) the mine detection dog team is an incredibly valuable tool for mine detection. None of MLI’s Mine Detection Dogs have ever been hurt or killed while working.
MLI dogs are trained either at the Global Training Academy in Somerset, Texas or the Mine Detection Dog Center in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Both facilities procure dogs from reputable breeders in Europe. The dogs complete a rigorous 3-5 month training course where they learn to detect explosive odors commonly found in landmines.
Dogs are trained to locate the scent and then sit still, stay safe, and alert a human partner to mark the spot. This ensures that the mine can be removed or destroyed. Dogs’ detection skills, as well as their agility and size, makes them one of the most versatile and valuable partners in the landmine removal team.
MDDs are motivated to work because of their strong relationship with their human partners and the reward received for finding a mine. When a dog detects a mine, the handler praises and rewards the dog, usually with a ball or a toy. This makes the work fun for the dog, which motivates them to continue.
What Happens When A Mine Detection Dog Completes its Service?
MLI believes that successful programs ensure that retired dogs are placed in good homes, in appropriate recognition of their service. When MLI partners with a local demining organization, this is a critical and contracted element. Nearly all of MLI’s MDDs are adopted by their handlers upon retirement, as the dogs generally work with the same person for their entire working career and an incredibly deep bond develops. When this is not possible, MLI brings them to the United States and partners with organizations like Mission K9 Rescue to place them in loving homes.
Through individual and corporate sponsorship MLI has purchased, trained and delivered 235 lifesaving dogs.
Meet our dogs, and the donors who made everything possible.