The US Homeland Security wants to make sure that the thousands of dogs that work for the agency stay healthy. So, the agency signed a $200,000 contract with HaloLights to prototype a sensor-equipped harness that monitors dogs’ heart rate, body temperature and other vitals. In addition to health data, the harness would also track each dog’s GPS location and monitor environmental factors like air temperature and humidity.
The data would be fed back to support staff in real-time and alert them of any irregularities, reports Nextgov.
K-9 units in Customs and Border Protection often work in tough conditions. They sniff out illegal drugs, firearms, currency and trafficked persons at ports of entry and along the border. HaloLights’ Canine Health Analytics Monitoring Platform (C.H.A.M.P.) can provide a holistic picture of each dog’s health, helping Homeland Security keep its K-9 units safe and strong, according to an official.
“With the potential risks Customs and Border Protection canine agents face in their daily operations, there is an expressed desire for improved health monitoring tools to ensure their safety,” Don Roberts, who manages the office’s Detection Canine program, said in a statement. “In funding this project, [the Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate] is working to ensure that officer safety, human or canine, is a priority.”
Melissa Oh, the SVIP managing director, said:
“Ensuring the proactive detection and intervention of health complications will simplify the work [U.S. Border Patrol] does to keep K-9 agents in top shape.”
As of 2016, Customs and Border Protection had more than 1,400 K-9 units deployed across the country.
Based in Orlando, FL, HaloLights produces LED dog collars. The company mentioned its partnership with the Homeland Security in its facebook page, saying:
“We’re very humbled to be working alongside the Department of Homeland Security SVIP S&T Directorate in developing smart k9 wearables that will aid in the safety and wellbeing of all working K9s.”