This so-called “bad dog” is doing good in Africa, saving wildlife from poachers and putting illegal hunters behind bars.

Ruger, a Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix, was unloved as a puppy, angry and aggressive in later years, and is going blind today. But as Zambia’s first anti-poaching canine, he’s become a very good dog — catching more than 150 poachers since going to work in 2014.


Conservation biologist Megan Parker found Ruger in a Montana shelter. He’d snap at people and was hard to handle — qualities that make him unlikely to ever be adopted, but perfect for going after poachers.

Trained by Parker and others at Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C), Ruger will signal when he’s spotted weapons or ivory by staring at the place the contraband is hidden.

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Even though he’s going blind and can only see shadows, Ruger’s handlers say it’s only made him better at his job — by heightening his sense of smell.

During a recent demonstration in Zambia, he found a tiny piece of ivory hidden in a matchbox in less than three minutes. Some of the spectators thought his prowess was a form of witchcraft.

He’s also a model for more dogs being trained to fight poaching around the African continent.

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The former “bad dog” has taken a bite out of Zambia’s poaching problems and the people who trained and work with Ruger think that he is more than just a “good dog” now.

“He’s a hero,” Pete Coppolillo of WD4C told The Guardian.

(WATCH the TEDx Talk video below about “Bad Dogs”, or READ more at The Guardian) — Photo: Working Dogs for Conservation, Guardian video

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