Dogs in Pinellas trained to detect cancer in people

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PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – They’re not exactly your typical four-legged friends. They are dogs who can detect cancer and some studies suggest their success rate is 98 percent.

Some of those same dogs started out as therapy dogs who lent their paws to the victims of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting last month in Orlando.

One thing all of these dogs have in common? They are part of the “Pawsitive Life Foundation” based in Pinellas Park.

There’s nothing like a dog who’s been rescued and if you add in anywhere from four to six months of training, you have therapy dogs like Eddie, the 3-year-old we recently met on a warm day in St. Petersburg.

“He’s got lots of purpose,” said Tracy Eckert. “Lots of work to do. Our organization takes rescue dogs and saves their life so they can in turn help and saves someone else’s life.”

Eddie is one of countless dogs from the Pawsitive Life Foundation where they train rescue dogs for early cancer detection in humans.

Soon after additional training, Eddie will be able to do just that. But how?

“The nose definitely knows,” said Eckert.

Turns out the nose of a human being is a lot different different than those of our four-legged friends.

“They have about 250,000 times better scent than we do,” Eckert said as Eddie waited patiently by her sid.e

But even before he gets his cancer training, Eddie, along with a handful of other therapy dogs, went to the Orlando Regional Medical Center last month visiting the victims of the pulse nightclub shooting, including Angel Colon from Lakeland.

He miraculously survived the attack by playing dead on the floor in order to live.

“We had one woman that came up to one of our dogs and she just had a very sullen long on her face,” Eckert says as she remembered the day they went to visit. “Very drawn. After about five minutes of petting that dog, she looked so happy and so cheerful. You could just see a whole change come over her. So for those moments, her world change. It lifted her spirits. It brought a little joy to her life even though she was in a terrible situation.”

There’s just something about dogs like Eddie who can take away the pain, even if it is just for a few moments time.

The founder of the foundation, Wendy Kelly, has first-hand experience. When she went to a doctor, they originally told her that she was being paranoid. A dog later detected the cancer and when Kelly went back to the doctor, the doctor confirmed the dog’s findings.

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Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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