Calgary looking to put dog on payroll to sniff out rats

Wanted: tenacious terrier with keen sense of smell to sniff out rats. Bill Bruce, bylaw boss for the City of Calgary, says his department is looking to put a rodent-wrangling pooch on the payroll after a rat was recently found in a northeast neighbourhood.

CALGARY — Wanted: tenacious terrier with keen sense of smell to sniff out rats.

Bill Bruce, bylaw boss for the City of Calgary, says his department is looking to put a rodent-wrangling pooch on the payroll after a rat was recently found in a northeast neighbourhood.

He says other breeds besides terriers will be considered if they have the right qualifications.

The winning candidate might even be a dog from the city animal shelter.

The qualifying canine will live with a bylaw officer, have unlimited access to an on-staff veterinarian and make public appearances.

Calgary’s recent discovery of one Norway rat in what is supposed to be a rat-free province spawned 100 calls about possible sightings.

Concerns were no doubt further spurred by reports around the same time that Swift Current in southern Saskatchewan was infested with rats.

Bruce says the so-called rat-dog will help with early and fast detection in the future.

“It’s not like we can put a 100-foot wall up around Alberta. They will get in,” Bruce said.

“If we do have a suspected rat, the dog could find it in a matter of minutes.”

That would be greatly improved from current “very labour intensive methods” whereby officials search for droppings, evidence of gnawing or rat habitat.

With one to two calls a week about possible rat sightings, Bowser will be earning his biscuits.

Bruce said officials hope to find the right dog by the end of the year.

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