Guide Dogs Victoria and Milestone team up on canine well-being

Guide Dogs Victoria has been in operation since 1957 and stands as one of Australia’s
leading vision service providers. Having diversified its portfolio significantly as new
technologies, skills and programs become available, Guide Dogs Victoria provides
services such as mobility training, occupational therapy and technology training to
people with low vision and blindness throughout Victoria. With only 13 percent of funds
coming from government support, Guide Dogs Victoria relies on community donations
and support from private enterprise.

Puppies born inside the Guide Dogs Victoria program are very precious commodities.
When trained, dogs have the potential to become a trusted friend and partner, having a
huge positive influence on the life of a person with vision loss. Therefore, the wellbeing
of expecting mothers in the facility is crucial, demanding a great deal of attention and

When Guide Dogs Victoria began looking for ways to improve the well-being of female
dogs about to give birth, an advanced surveillance solution topped the list.

Guide Dogs Victoria monitors pregnant dogs and gives them full duty-of-care. However,
apart from monitoring temperatures to help indicate when a dog is about to go
into labour, looking after the pregnant mothers-to-be is intensive work that requires
constant vigilance. Twenty-four-hour monitoring of the whelping process takes a toll on
staff and veterinarians. It can also affect the dogs, as entering the room wakes them up
and makes them think they are likely to be fed or walked, disturbing their routines. At
this crucial time, a good night’s sleep is essential.

The whelping room had legacy cameras deployed. They were able to zoom, but
provided indistinct, low-resolution black-and-white images. The lack of quality imaging
made it hard for veterinary and nursing staff to make out the individual dogs, their
general condition, and whether they had gone into labour.

Guide Dogs Victoria looked for a more scientific approach to the whelping process and
installed high-resolution video cameras with Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) functionality and
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) to remotely monitor the whelping room. This solution
required a Video Management Software (VMS) solution as the platform for images to be
recorded, monitored and managed.

The Guide Dogs Victoria team at this time, said: “It was really about giving control and
freedom back to nursing staff, so that rather than driving in at 1am to check on a dog,
they are able to open the app, and see if the pregnant dog is still asleep or has gone into

Milestone’s Video Management Software (XProtect Professional Plus) was deployed in
a network of cameras in the whelping room. The cameras were donated by Swinburne
University, and refurbished by Axis Communications. Automatic lighting has been added
to the solution, so that dimmable lighting can be switched on remotely to check on the
dogs in a less obtrusive manner.

PTZ functionality allows the high-definition cameras to search the room with much
greater visibility, and with Milestone Systems’ VMS the system can be set up to detect
movement, track moving objects, or alert an operator if something unexpected occurs –
such as the arrival of unknown objects.

“The better degree of visibility gives us much greater insight into how the dogs are
getting on, and the automation and remote control within the system has made a big
impact on staff well-being.”

In conjunction with Milestone Systems’ XProtect, IP cameras were donated by
Swinburne University, and refurbished by Axis Communications. The cameras and
software afford a much greater degree of visibility and control than was previously
possible, and XProtect is able to integrate with a variety of third-party solutions to scale
up the platform when required.

IP cameras and a video monitoring solution allow Guide Dogs staff to closely watch
the whelping room in a non-invasive manner, which helps to provide a more relaxed
environment for both dogs and staff. The solution has also helped to solve certain
behavioural issues common in expecting mothers and their puppies.