LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — There’s a new kind of employee at Central Arkansas Water. In fact, there’s only one like her in North America.
Vessel is the water utility’s leak-detection dog. She can tell the difference between typical ground water versus treated water leaking from the distribution system. Her ability to sniff out leaks saves Central Arkansas Water hours of labor and money.
In Vessel’s first six months on the job since October 2019, she’s had a 97 percent accuracy rate in identifying leaks. This ultimately reduces unaccounted water rates, which saves everyone money. “Human crews” usually have to spend hours looking for the source of a leak and testing water before they can even begin the repairs.
For a dog who was dumped on the side of the road as a puppy, Vessel sure has made a name for herself.
“Her personality is out of this world,” said Vessel’s handler, Tim Preator.
Central Arkansas Waters’ most junior employee is only three years old, but her performance speaks volumes.
“I can put vessel on a leash, we take off,” Preator said. “She’s gonna do her thing, she’s gonna search and when we get to a leaky spot, she’s hey! It’s right here.” Vessel’s easy to please. She does all of this for just an old tennis ball.”
Preator said he used to work with k-9 officers. He said there’s something special about being the first to work with a dog like Vessel.
“To have the chance to be with her and get to see her and work with her and do things like this, it’s special,” Preator said.
“I can have conversations with her in that truck that I know is just gonna be between me and her,” Preator said.
Vessel trained at Arkansas “Paws in Prison” before heading over to Central Arkansas Water. The water company said she didn’t fit the mold of a typical service animal because of her energy.
She has what’s called a “high ball drive” which makes her perfect for this position.