Puddles the mussel-sniffing dog saves Washington waters from invasive species

PC: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

SPOKANE, Wash. — Meet the dog that’s saving Washington waters.

Puddles is the state’s first ever mussel detection dog. It’s her job to sniff out invasive species- such as zebra and quagga mussels- before they enter Washington waters on incoming boats. 

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Puddles did just that this Memorial Day weekend. 

While working at a boat check station on the Washington-Idaho border, Puddles found invasive mussels on a boat traveling from Lake Havasu in Arizona. The boat had already been decontaminated at three other sites in Montana and Idaho, but the mussels had gone undetected. 

That is, until Puddles sniffed them out behind the boat’s sonar system. 

Invasive mussels have the potential to clog water filtration pipes, destroy boat engines, and can completely take over bodies of water, according to the WDFW. 

The Columbia River is the only basin in the U.S. the mussels haven’t invaded. If they do, WDFW estimates it could cost hydroelectric facilities up to $300 million a year, and cause hundreds of millions more in environmental damage.   

“Puddles is just one weapon in the fight against invasive mussels,” it reads in a release from WDFW. 

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