Natural gas pipeline inspection dogs make a ‘ruff’ job easier

Joe Massaro Joe Massaro

The increase in domestic natural gas production has created thousands of new energy jobs and opportunities, not just for humans but for dogs, too.

Canine pipeline inspections offer an alternative to traditional inspection methods.

“It’s an environmentally friendly, cost-effective approach,” said Susan Hagberg, president of CDIS K9 Pipeline Leak Inspection in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. “We quickly find the leak and save [the pipeline owner] money, all by using a trained dog.”

Hagberg performed a demo of the company’s services at Midstream PA 2017 on Oct. 19 in State College, Pennsylvania. She also discussed canine natural gas pipeline inspections with The Stream.

Natural gas pipeline-inspecting dog

How did you become involved in pipeline leak detection?

Since 1998, I have worked with dogs. We have two other companies — one is Wild Goose Chase Inc., a pest control service, and the other is for bedbug inspections. I saw that there’s a need for these types of pipeline inspections. Our dogs are trained at the K9 Pipeline Training Academy, which is the go-to trainer for these kinds of inspections.

What is the natural gas pipeline inspection process?

Once we are dispatched to a site, we inject a special odorant into the pipeline so that it will rise to the surface. We walk the dog along the pipeline right of way. When the dog smells the odorant — and they can smell it coming from a hairpin crack — they begin to dig as if they are looking for a ball. The dig spot is where the leak is coming from, and a crew can dig the area and make the necessary repairs. We’ll continue to walk the right of way to detect any other leaks and repeat the process as necessary.

What kinds of dogs work best for pipeline inspections?

You’ll find that there are a lot of lab mixes in this type of work. We use more outdoorsy dogs that have a lot of drive, since there will be a lot of walking. These dogs have been training since they were puppies for this type of work.

Right now, they’re using dogs to find invasive plant species and endangered wildlife. It’s exciting some of the things canines are being used to find.

Natural gas pipeline-inspecting dog

Joe Massaro Joe Massaro

Joe Massaro is based in Bravo Group's Pittsburgh office and has deep energy industry expertise. He previously served as the field director for a Pennsylvania-based oil and gas industry grassroots PR firm.

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