Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Animal Science

First Advisor

Perry, Dr. Erin


Search-and -rescue (SAR) teams spend days and sometimes weeks in the field following a disaster. After completing their assigned mission, handlers and canines return to base, potentially bringing contaminated material with them. There were 3 objectives for this study; (1) the effects of cleanser and equipment materials on the efficiency of decontamination protocols, (2) the effects of improved treatments on the efficiency of decontamination protocols and (3) the use of field kits and improved training on decontamination techniques in the field. In the first study, straps (n = 54) were cut from biothane, leather and nylon. Straps were washed with three kinds of cleansers; Dawn dishwashing detergent, Johnson and Johnson’s Head-to-toe baby wash and Simple Green. In addition, three different types of treatments: 5-minute soak (A), double 5-minute soak (B) and a 3-minute soak with a 2-minute agitation (C). In the second study, straps (n = 40) of leather and nylon were utilized. Unlike the previous study, only Dawn dishwashing detergent and Johnson and Johnson’s Head-To-Toe-Baby Wash were selected as cleansers for decontamination. In addition, improved treatments (PW or SK) were created and utilized to further decontaminant the straps. The finally part of the study utilized canine teams (n = 10), composed of canine and handlers and were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Groups were structured as follows: TRAINED (n = 5) received 30-minutes of interactive training (using the illustrated guide contained in the kit) on proper utilization of equipment provided; UNTRAINED (n = 5) received the same field kit and an illustrated guide with no interactive training. An oil-based pseudocontaminant (GloGerm®) was topically applied to the straps in the first two studies and then to four anatomic sites on the canine participants: cranial neck, between the shoulder blades, left medial hindlimb and hind left paw in the last study. Pre- and post-images were taken of the straps and at the four anatomical locations prior to and following decontamination. Images were analyzed via two methods 1) categorical scores; 2) measured fluorescent reduction. Categorical scores were assigned, using two blinded reviewers (Venable et. al., 2017). The categorical scores were allotted as follows: 0 = <24% contaminant reduction; 1 = 25-50% contaminant reduction; 2 = 51-75% contaminant reduction; and 3 = >76% contaminant reduction (Lee et al., 2014). No score discrepancies >1 were observed between reviewers. Score data were analyzed using SAS version 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC), as a Chi Square with PROC FREQ and measurement data were analyzed using PROC ANOVA. Results in the first study indicate that material (P = .2331), cleanser (P = .2156) and treatment (P = .9139) had no effect on contaminant reduction. However, when treatments were improved in the second study, power wash was more effective at contaminant reduction (P = .0004). In addition, material was also determined to have an effect on decontamination (P = .0135). Although, the kind of cleanser used had no effect (P = .3564). Additionally, in the last study, TRAINED handlers were more effective at contamination reduction (P = .0093) as compared to their UNTRAINED counterparts. The initial results indicate that no combination of material, cleanser or treatment had any effect on reducing the oil-based contaminants. Nevertheless, with improved treatments there is a potential to more thoroughly decontaminate the collars and leashes. In addition, study three indicates that handlers, when properly trained, can achieve reduction of oil-based contaminants with a basic field kit and a garden hose. These data have implications for management of canines in the field that may be exposed to unknown substances and require timely decontamination.




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