Dr. Pete ‘Skip’ Scheifele MD, PhD, LCDR USN (Ret), Professor and Executive Director of the overall FETCHLAB™USA and Director of UC FETCHLAB: Dr. Scheifele is a Navy Vietnam era veteran; submarine sonar and weapons officer/Navy Diver and Naval Oceanographer. He directed the Navy Marine Mammal Technology Program, specializing in marine mammal bioacoustics research and was Head Trainer at Mystic Aquarium. He was awarded the Order of the Decibel and a presidential citation by President George Bush Sr. for his pioneering work with marine mammal bioacoustics. He trained and handled narcotics and bomb dogs for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Presently, he directs UC FETCHLAB world-renowned for investigating animal audiology, vocal mechanisms and bioacoustics and conducting animal audiology. Peter also serves as the U.S. Army Special Forces and DOD subject matter expert on tactical military working dog audiology and Canine PTSD. He is Professor of animal bioacoustics, audiology, and human Neuroaudiology in the College of Allied Health Sciences, and otology and neurology in the College of Medicine.
University of Cincinnati FETCHLAB is an internationally renowned animal hearing and bioacoustics laboratory and hearing clinic for animals. They conduct hearing screening and full audiological assessment and imaging for dogs. The FETCHLAB is the first and only hearing clinic for animals in the United States capable of running full audiological diagnostic testing and analyses. They see dogs and exotic animals from all over the world.
MAJ Jennifer Noetzel, US Army: MAJ Noetzel is a current active-duty Army audiologist and PhD student. She entered military service in 2010 after receiving her Clinical Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Cincinnati (UC). She has been stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington DC, Ft. Drum, NY, Ft. Hood, TX, and Ft. Stewart, GA. After years of working with Soldiers who were noise exposed and implementing comprehensive hearing conservation program for our Service Members, she began to question what these hazardous noise levels were doing to our other brothers in arms, our military working dogs. Her research goal is to quantify the auditory effects of hazardous levels of noise on military working dogs. She was selected by the Army to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with an area of focus in bioacoustics and animal audiology at UC. She is currently working in UC’s FETCH Lab (Facility for Education and Training of Canine Hearing) which has a partnership with the Department of Defense and Special Forces military working dogs. This research will be the first of its kind and contribute to developing an evidenced based hearing conservation program for canines.
HEARING TESTING IN NOISE EXPOSED K9s
Hearing tests consists of brainstem auditory evoked responses (BAER) and otoacoustic emission (OAE). In both tests there is no behavioral response required from the dog.
BAER testing uses 3 subdermal needle electrodes inserted into the dog (placement marked red in photo below). An insert earphone is placed into the dog’s ear canal and click sounds are played. The brain responds to these clicks, and we can measure the response with special equipment. OAE testing consists of only an insert earphone being placed into the dog’s ear canal and tones being played into the ear while we measure the response. Baseline testing provides information about the initial status of your dog’s hearing. Repeated testing can be compared to baseline testing. If repeat testing is completed after noise exposure it can tell us if there is any change on the hearing system and whether that change is temporary or permanent. Duration of both BAER and OAE testing is 20 minutes.
Working dogs need to be in top physical shape in order to do their job effectively. Handlers, veterinarians, and trainers devote time to conditioning, nutrition, the health of their dog’s teeth, eyes, skin, and muscles. One often overlooked health concern is the dog’s ability to hear. Normal hearing is important for working dogs as it enables them to yield auditory cues from the environment, take commands from their handlers, and maintain situational awareness. Working dogs are often placed in high levels of noise innate in the course of their job such as small arms fire, breeches, explosions, and/or riding in loud tactical vehicles. Outside their job they may be housed in noisy kennels which also have the potential to impact their hearing. By performing hearing testing on working dogs, we can gain knowledge about what is normal for a working dog. It can help develop a standard for inclusion into a working dog program or support initial job placement. By documenting their demographics and exposures we can understand how much hearing can change and potentially recover as a result of noise. This can provide insight into a working dog’s work/rest cycles after noise exposure, limit duty or provide evidence for a job change if signs of hearing threshold decrease, it can educate handlers and trainers to consider visual over auditory in certain situations or for certain dogs.
All registered conference attendee have the opportunity for this service. If interested in having your dog’s hearing tested contact MAJ Noetzel at firstname.lastname@example.org All dogs will be tested with their handlers at a scheduled time during the conference.