From rescue pup to trainee lifesaver

4 Jul 2024

Our latest four-legged recruit is a rescue puppy from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Labrador, Chilli, has joined our charity at 8 weeks old and will soon start his life-saving career as a super sniffer.

Chilli will start training to become either a Medical Alert Assistance Dog or a Bio Detection Dog.

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs support people with complex health conditions like Type 1 diabetes, PoTS and severe allergies when they are in danger of having a potentially life-threatening medical event. They detect a change in their odour, and alert them so they can take the necessary action and prevent hospital admission.

Bio Detection Dogs are trained to detect the smell of diseases like cancers, Parkinson’s and bacterial infections from human samples in the charity’s training room. Learnings from the dogs inform the scientific community, including bio-electronic nose developers and AI and have the potential to revolutionise the future of diagnostics.


Chris Allen, Head of Canine Supply, Training and Welfare at Medical Detection Dogs, says: “When the team at Battersea called to say they had a Mum and her puppies in their care, and that they were still very young, I was immediately interested. Ideally our recruits join us at around that age and we love to include rescue dogs when we can. We have had successful trainees from Battersea in the past so look forward to seeing where Chilli’s nose takes him to.

“It was love at first sight for the whole team when we met Chilli. To think that he found himself homeless through no fault of his own and will now go on to do something so amazing is just brilliant.

“He already seems like a confident little boy who loves his toys and pottering about in his Puppy Socialisers’ garden and has learned all his basic cues very quickly. I can’t wait to work with him.”

Sonia Brooks, Chilli’s Puppy Socialiser says: “We have socialised puppies for MDD in the past and love to see them progress on their life-saving paths. When we learned that our next houseguest would be Chilli, we were really excited as his story feels very special. He is keeping us entertained and seems like a really clever boy already. He doesn’t miss a beat and loves to be at the centre of the action. Of course, the first thing we did was buy him a cuddly chilli toy which he is often found proudly carrying about.”

Lucy Carter, Animal Partnerships Officer at Battersea, said: “At Battersea our dedicated Animal Partnerships team work with many different dog and cat charities, rescues and organisations all over the country to provide the best outcome for the dogs and cats that come into our care. At our London centre we recently had seven Labrador puppies born on site and one of the litter, Chilli, was a confident boy, always the first to investigate everything and explore his surroundings, we also saw that he was able to relax on his own and stay calm making him a well-rounded little pup.

“We’ve been fortunate over the years to work closely with Medical Detection Dogs, so we thought of them straight away as we felt that Chilli would be a great fit for one of their programmes.  We’re so pleased to see Chilli embark on his training and look forward to seeing how he progresses.”

Medical Detection Dogs has worked with numerous successful rescue dogs over the years including Cocker Spaniel, Asher, who was a COVID-19 detection dog, Cocker Spaniel, Jasper, who is a Pseudomonas detection dog and Dachshund, Iggy, a bio detection dog in training.

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