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ACDN Team Evaluation Guidelines


Since forming in 2017, one of the core missions for Australasian Conservation Dog Network (ACDN) has been to collaboratively develop evaluation guidelines for the ethical, safe and effective deployment of conservation detection dog teams.  As well as prioritising the safety and welfare of our dog teams and the animals they work alongside, the ACDN is also committed to ensuring that conservation dog teams be effective in their specialist fields.

The development of these evaluation guidelines wasn’t straightforward. We started by forming an ACDN Competency Committee in 2018, made up of Australian and internationally respected conservation dog trainers, handlers, researchers and ecologists.  The committee spent months collating current evaluation and assessment methods from around the world, and took this information to begin drafting evaluation guidelines that would have scope to accommodate the unique requirements of individual teams and their projects.

Once drafted, the evaluation guidelines were then peer reviewed by national and international experts – a total of 19 reviewers, from 16 organisations.  Their feedback was worked into the current document, which reflects a massive collaborative effort, incorporating the knowledge, experience and passion of a diverse range of conservation dog professionals from all over the world.

While there are numerous ways to assess a conservation detection dog team, our evaluation guidelines prioritise evaluating teams in surveys that represent real-world working requirements, that are tailored to team’s target species and project objectives. These evaluations are not designed to represent a minimum standard which a team must attain in order to be deemed ‘competent’. Instead, these evaluations employ scientifically-supported methods that assess team search performance, efficiency, working safety and welfare during simulated field surveys.

Assessing teams in settings and conditions that reflect their everyday working environments will ensure that results collected are as close a reflection of their actual detection performance as possible. This data will be valuable both to the teams themselves and their ongoing development, as well as to potential employers and collaborators.

The ACDN would like to acknowledge and thank all people who were involved in the development of these evaluation guidelines, and hope that they will be a valuable resource for all operational conservation detection dog teams.

Feel free to download a copy of these guidelines.

ACDN CDD Team Evaluation Guidelines 2022

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