|Mine Sniffing Canines|
|There are an estimated 10 million land mines in Afghanistan, posing a danger to American troops and civilians alike. But the latest generation of mine-sniffing dogs is on the job there, helping to reduce the number of victims. With their heightened sense of smell they have detected thousand of mines cased in plastic covers, or landmines placed in an around metal structures or in iron bearing soils, which makes them difficult to detect using conventional methods.
Outside of Kabul, United Nations experts are employing 112 German shepherd and Belgian shepherd dogs trained to sniff out explosives and clear the area of land mines that have killed so many people over the years. The program to train dogs to sniff out the explosives began in 1989. Most of the dogs are imported from the Netherlands and it takes about a year and a half to train each dog. They are taught to stop and sit down whenever they detect a landmine.
The US government has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to de-mining efforts in nearly 40 countries The U.S. Department of State helps provide for the training of the dog handlers who work alongside the de-mining canines. According to a CNN report, the use of dogs has reduced the number of deaths from mine explosions each month from 130 (in 1999) to 88 (in 2000).