We all know that dogs can help humans by using their amazing scenting abilities, such as finding missing persons and detecting bombs, narcotics, and arson materials.  How they do it and how accurate they are, however, has been difficult to study scientifically.  ECS has been fortunate to attract the attention of the scientific community to study our canines and their abilities to locate and source track human sewage.

The first study was funded and published by the Water Environment Research Foundataion (WERF) and conducted by the City of Santa Barbara Creeks Division and the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2010.  Side-by-side lab testing for bacterial, chemical, and human DNA markers was done for the locations investigated by the canines. The final research report found:

  • The canines were 100% accurate on sites/samples where the lab results did not find any human waste indicators.
  • One canine was 100% accurate and the other was 86% accurate (when factoring for a canine "scent saturation" complication at 1 site) where the lab results found at least 1 human waste indicator.
  • There are benefits to adding canine scent tracking to the source tracking toolbox. The major advantages include real time results, the ability to test a high number of sites per day, and low cost per sample.  

Click here to read the full report.

A follow up to the original WERF study was published in Water Environment Research in June 2014.  That publication found:

  • ECS canine source tracking is a useful approach for prioritizing sampling sites for which DNA-based and other expensive laboratory tests can then confirm and quantify the human waste contamination.  

Many ECS clients are now conducting side-by-side sample collection and lab testing for bacterial, chemical, and/or human DNA indicators at key sites where sewage presence was detected by the ECS canines. The combined results can provide confirmation of sewage presence and its health risk potential based on amount of fecal indicator bacteria and other measures.  The results can also be a powerful tool for locating illicit discharge sources that are "invisible", such as leaking underground pipes and faulty septic system leaching, and providing more comprehensive information for decision making.


November 2018 - Navesink River, NJ - 2nd Visit


The uniqueness of what ECS does and the sight of our talented and adorable canines often attracts the media to observe and report on our activities.  Here are a few of our more recent news articles and videos.​​​​


Since its founding in 2009, ECS has completed nearly 100 sewage detection/source tracking projects in 16 different states plus Washington D.C. and several hundred Ship and Sniff samples from 13 different states

Here is a list of the states we have worked in or done Ship and Sniff sample scenting for over the past 10 years.  We have provided services to small, medium, and large municipalities, state environmental quality agencies, environmental and water quality organizations, Riverkeepers, Native American tribes, environmental consulting companies, and lake associations.

New Hampshire 
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia 
and Washington D.C.