Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition (RRISC) Recognizes Mussel Dogs for Environmental Protection


Denair, CA (via PRWEB) August 12, 2016 ~ Mussel Dogs, a leader in the inspection of watercraft for quagga and zebra mussels, was recognized for “Outstanding Achievement By a Private Sector Company in Protecting America’s Environment and Economy.” On June 15th, 2016, the Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition (RRISC) hosted its Third Annual Congressional Reception and Awards Dinner at which Debra DeShon accepted the award on behalf of Mussel Dogs.

Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI), who Co-Chairs the Congressional Invasive Species Caucus, spoke with attendees about how the economy, environment, and public health are affected by Invasive Species in every Congressional District. During the event, RRISC recognized several individuals and organizations from all over the country who display excellence in reducing the risks and adverse effects of invasive species.

Scott Cameron, President of the Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition, said, “Mussel Dogs has given us a significant technological breakthrough in the difficult fight against invasive zebra and quagga mussels. They did it by tapping into one of the most sensitive detection instruments known to man, a dog’s sense of smell. Mussel Dogs is now able to help protect the hundreds of billions of dollars of irrigation, municipal water supply, and hydroelectric generating capacity infrastructure in the Western United States from the risks posed by invasive mussels.”

Ms. Debra DeShon, Founder of Mussel Dogs stated, “What an absolute honor to be recognized for doing what we love. Putting a dogs love of hide and seek to use finding quagga and zebra mussels and humans love of dogs as a way to open up an avenue for education. Our continued goal is to promote and aid in the use of canines in the field of environmental conservation.”

About Mussel Dogs, LLC

Debra DeShon was approached by a local lake in 2007 and asked if she could train canines to help expedite the inspection process of watercraft for quagga and zebra mussels. Mussel Dogs was created and since then has been qualified and permitted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife to possess quagga and zebra mussels for training, and now have trained and certified canines for inspections servicing multiple waterways.

About Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition

The Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition (RRISC) seeks to reduce the risks posed by invasive species to the economy, environment, and public health by educating Americans about those risks and promoting cost-effective non-regulatory risk-based strategies for reducing them. More information about RRISC and the annual awards can be found at:

Mussel Dogs inspect boats at Lake Sonoma

Freddy Fahl and Captain Korky did a great job at this interview for Mussel Dogs about invasive species detection at Lake Sonoma!

Green Dog Rescue Project

Mussel Dogs is proud to be partnered with Green Dog Rescue Project to train their dogs for the Rescued For A Reason Program. We are currently working with our fourth dog Mikey and are very encouraged with his progress. He should be fully trained and ready to work by January 1. He will be then […]


2015 California Mussel-Free Grant Funds For Qualified Reservoirs

Lake Managers Don’t miss your second opportunity to apply for up to $200,000 in Mussel-Free Grant Funds!

This grant is funded by the monies that have been collected by the DMV for boater registration on behalf of the Division of Boating and Waterways. The mussel-free grant funds requirements and application processes can be accessed at the following link:

We are proud to be currently partnering with two of last years’ grant winners, Modesto Reservoir and Woodward Reservoir. At these sights we perform high profile inspection services utilizing our canines as well as boater education on Clean Drain and Dry. We also are very proud of our partnership with Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino where we perform in...

Mussel Dogs’ Debra Deshon on Women’s Radio Network

Click to play the “Open Forum Hosted by Sonia Williams” interview below:

Mussel Dogs on Women’s Radio Network – Jan 23, 2015

California Mussel-Free Grant Funds Are Available For Qualified Reservoirs

The grant requirements for the Mussel Free grant monies collected by the California DMV on boater registrations on behalf of the Division of Boating and Waterways have been published.

The grant monies can be applied for by anyone that owns or manages a water reservoir that allows public access for recreational activities and is not already infested with quagga or zebra mussels. All paperwork must be turned in by October 20, 2014. The grant is for a period of up to 2 years and would begin on June 1, 2015. They are calculating, approximately 2.5 million dollars will be available. Each project can apply for up to $200,000 for the 2 year period. The monies are for two main purposes: to prepare a Prevention Plan and Implementation Projects.


If you are an owner or manager of a water reservoir NOW is the time to apply for these mussel-free grant funds. We can help with all planning /assessment needs. There are many factors to take into account to come up with a comprehensive plan. You need to take into consideration everything from infrastructure, sampling, inspections, staffing, permits, traffic control, education and decontaminations. Mussel Dogs consults in all these areas and is ready to help you secure your share of these grants.


The focus of these grants is to keep the mussels from spreading and this is a huge opportunity for you to do your part. It is also an exceptional opportunity to partner with nearby reservoirs to get on the same protocols so you feel comfortable accepting boaters from their mussel free waters to yours. There is also a great opportunity here to get localized decontamination stations set up that can service multiple waterways. Mussel Dog strongly suggests banding programs between lakes that have comprehensive and high standard mandatory inspections in place.

We aren’t just cute dogs! Contact us today to learn how we can help your reservoir by assisting in the mussel-free grant process!

I got my California “Mussel Free” sticker……now what

So you were charged $16 extra dollars on your California boat registration for 2014 and have another sticker to decorate your boat with. What does it mean and where does the sticker go, where does the money go, does this mean I can launch anywhere in CA and why?

First off you are required to pay the fee and display this sticker if you launch your boat in any fresh waterways in California. If your boat is solely launched in salt water you can apply for an exemption from the fee and the sticker. Once you have paid the fee and received the sticker it needs to be displayed in line with the CF number and vessel registration number on both sides of the boat.


The sticker does not mean your vessel is mussel free. It means you have paid a fee that will be used by the Division of Boating and Waterways to fund grants for reservoirs to implement education, inspection and decontamination programs throughout the state. Some of the money will be for the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife Department (CDFW) to use for activities solely for the purpose of stopping the spread of quagga and zebra mussels. At the present time every waterway has their own policies and procedures before a boat launches. These processes vary and range from a sign in the parking lot that says “Don’t Move A Mussel”, self inspections, answering a few questions and getting a sticker for a particular lake, having a full inspection and or decontamination stations. EVERY lake does it’s own thing so be sure to check a waterway before you go there to find out what they require and if there are fees associated. The CDFW website has a lot of helpful information on it also.

The idea behind the grants is to help reservoirs to implement programs to keep quagga and/or zebra mussels from being spread to their mussel free waterway. These programs will most likely be made up of staffing inspection and education programs, help paying for infrastructure to keep boats out that haven’t had an inspection (like gates), and decontamination stations for boats. Since once quagga and zebra mussels are present there is no way to get rid of them, these programs are important. The mussels can live for up to 30 days with moisture which is the reason why it is so important to have your boats dry. The veligers (mussel babies) are microscopic. Let’s hope that multiple programs are put together that recognize each others inspection processes. That way once you have had an initial inspection and get banded on your way out, if the band is acceptable at the next lake, you will be able to launch without another inspection.

Meet Freddy


We are very proud to introduce Freddy Fahl as an additional handler of Popeye. Freddy has been a part of the Mussel Dog team for the past 3 years as a boat inspector and educator. His role has been to keep the line of boaters moving safely and educating the boaters on quagga and zebra mussels as Popeye is sniffing the boats. Freddy explains to the boaters the importance of Clean, Drain and Dry, that there are different regulations and inspections at every waterway and the importance of the boater to make sure that they are not transporting quagga or zebra mussels between waterways. Freddy has finished the training to become a Mussel Dog handler over these 3 years and was certified by an independent agency with Popeye. Freddy also works at the Humane Society of Tuolumne County in Jamestown CA, where he cares for and helps save and adopt out dogs and cats. Freddy has a special place in his heart for animals and they tend to feel the same way about him. With his 3 years of experience as a boat inspector for quagga and zebra mussels and his hard work to learn how to handle a detection canine, Freddy is the perfect addition to our canine handling team. Please take a moment to Congratulate Freddy on his accomplishment and his new position within Mussel Dogs!