Articles about sniffer dogs

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Articles about sniffer dogs

Postby Maya » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:29 pm

Poste by blake1 on MF:

"Regarding the sniffer dogs, here are some bits I've cut from previous posts by "aviewer", who works with sniffer dogs. These date from last month. If you do a search for aviewer's name, you'll find the thread where these were posted, called "Blood not Madeleine's" or somesuch.

(apologizes for the long post, but this is good info that always sinks to the bottom--and good reading for everyone who hasn't already seen it)



"The UK dogs would be excellent at sniffing out a Cadaver that may have been in clothes that were found in a drawer at the time and were supposed to be "fresh" unworn clothes .

It is not unknown for a dead body to have a clothes change for instance .

A lot of material evidence is taken away from crime scenes and just because its put into a sealable bag does not mean it cannot have further tests if required.

People may want to consider that before discounting how good or useless some of the "Sniffers" would be in evidence when they had a lot of "material" to confirm suspicions.

These 2 dogs are extremely expensive and in demand , among the best trained "Sniffers" in the world , its not for no reason they eat fresh salmon."


"Absolutely untrue I?m afraid that a dog cannot differentiate the smell of a certain required cadaver, each dog has a purpose many dogs / handlers have been used it is just that the 2 UK dogs were more experienced , actually the best available at this time in their field of Cadaver .

Using details from all the dogs and they are all able to "smell just Maddie" if a scent was supplied either Cadaver or living by the way , it can be with no doubt whether the final analysis would be the expected victim or not.

You would be wrong to under estimate why these spaniels are so very much in demand - so very expensive , a very very reliable form of evidence collection and along with other "required items" can be used in court enough to sway a conviction.

That?s as long as the other required items are also in place of course which the sniffers may also have helped gain of course , very useful tools to help close a case."


"Eddie, whose prime job is to sniff out Cadaver is fully able to locate any individual Cadaver scent even amongst multiple death situations.
Eddie can also be used once a cadaver is known to exist and even if 2 differing Cadaver are in same location for instance he is well able to contact the required victim only.
Eddie has been used many times AFTER other less "eager & efficient" dogs, such as those already trained in Portugal FOR corpse recognition.
Both Eddie & Keela (top spaniels) were used on the successful Attracta Harron case , both are multi talented regardless of UK papers saying that they are only able to do only 1 type of detection each.

It would be also wrong to decide that because of the presence of these 2 UK dogs that more have not been used AND that it had NOT already been known that a Cadaver had been present in the room before their arrival and it was required to confirm with top level "sniffer hounds" that it was indeed the victim expected.
Also of course where it went, hence Eddies & Keelas presence at places such as the beach of light supermarket !!!

I wouldn?t take too much notice of this UK and Portugal were not working together for 3 months if I were you there really are no bungling keystone cops working this case .
These very expensive spaniels are not used if the evidence they might produce would not stand up in a prosecution the cost has to make it beneficial , they don?t like traveling without reason as they are extremely valuable and insured for millions of ?s , there has to be a lot of evidence ALREADY gathered by other means / hounds before a consideration is given

These 2 are not the only "Star" spaniels though"


"I handle some of the lesser dogs on occasion , much more in past than now but I am still quite close so I am just trying to give the insight that I am able to give.

Basic premise ..... much the same as a lot of forensics lay upon removal or addition of chemicals , what a dog such as Eddie "sees / smells" is a chemical that buys him food and companionship , the idea that he knows even what the Cadaver really is , is undecided a corpse to a dog is not a grief unless the corpse fed and watered him IT IS A CHEMICAL IT SEEKS .
Media spin is making you believe that they only smell DEATH or a CADAVER it shows how powerful such a short article in a tabloid can be.

I hope you can understand the following as I am not a lecturer in this subject but it is part of "My Field" hence why I came here once this case hit this final stage

So I think your confusion here really is the media spin at the moment as usual trying to put a real hero spin on 2 dogs out of very many so they have glossed over certain things including the fact that there was already some VERY able hounds in The Algarve.

This media spin that they only smell and trace death is misleading what they actually trace obviously is chemicals , just one of the chemicals they detect very very well because they smell it 20,000 times stronger than we do is in a dog such as Eddies case is the Cadaver (don?t know how they came by that figure its not mine) SOME of those chemicals are overly present in a corpse or cadaver after 1 :30 BUT that chemical is ALWAYS present in the body its just that it is much stronger after a period of decay and the other chemicals around it and the human immune system no longer interfere with its production.
This chemical is an INDIVIDUAL scent and not just the scent of death.
These dogs can be given the Pre Death chemical gained from any other item of the supposed victim that has been enhanced and therefore ONLY seek out the FINAL Cadaver Chemical from THAT victim as its only that that will get it its salmon dinner and full cream milk.

If that makes it clearer I don?t know but I am not an expert in that field only know of it maybe or the real "Crux" you would have to google it BUT I suspect that much like not advertising how to "Hack" a computer to criminals there will not be too much information into how they actually trained the dogs and with what chemicals etc for I would have thought obvious reasons.

Because the "example" is "Chemically Constructed" , you know if you think this chemical engineering from clothing / perspiration extractions etc is unbelievable , the amount of pioneering that is done in the UK especially the West Midlands on DNA would absolutely astound you , it far outways any of this "dog stuff" .
It is the DNA profiling from tiny tiny evidence along with the sniffer evidence that will have probably got the answers to this case

Its the enhancement of a scent from some previous (maybe the cat toy etc or clothing) they don?t need a that persons cadaver scent to find that actual corpse.

This enhancement is done for a lot of scents that the sniffers trace and is carried out by teams with same finesse as the "after" forensics themselves by highly paid / trained individuals who know much more about this than you or me.
I did edit my reply above to add a bit about the INDIVIDUAL idea of this , it is the media that has led people to believe they are just overall death smelling dogs when they can do so much more. "


".... to the dog EVERY scent is individual , we do not have that sense it is a ludicrous idea to even contemplate that ALL corpse smell is the same.
NO combination or singular fluid smells exactly the same to ANY dog never mind Spaniels of this nature / breeding.
These are not just stray pups picked up from the local dog pound .

I can see why on this forum some have given up giving their help and expertise , Its like me asking the mechanic from a UK Quick Fix about my car (I know nothing about cars) and then saying that cant be right when he works in his field.
Probably not the best analogy as I?m sure they have "ripped me" a few times Ha Ha
If Id have known you were just going to dismiss my knowledge so easily Id have not bothered spending the time typing it with 2 fingers .
I have work to do here with no coffee machine !!!

I?m sure the final details when released might help you understand.

Oh well Goodnight , please give both the Spaniels and the Detectives / Police on the case some respect for what they've done once its all over , there really is a lot more involved than you think .

I?m almost sure that this sad sagas going to enter the very final stages on Sunday"


"Blood dog sniffers doesn?t usually require any of this hence why its usually so much easier and cheaper but it is not the same circumstance with this case a very very minute "not seen with naked eye" speck of blood but bear in mind that they will find out whose blood it is even if they don?t know yet !!
The reason it takes so long is the intense work / technology teamwork by very trained individuals that is involved .
All very very costly and the UK IS the best in the world.

For certain you should have gathered from discussions about the blood already that to extract any DNA from the minute samples and not destroy it they have to carry out pre investigative enhancements / preservation
The cost of any pre forensic or search treatment on any clothing etc before the "sniffer" in this case would far outway the ?850.00 a day for each dog.
Not to mention the actual cost of all the rest , there is such a lot that goes on and I for one did NOT expect anything of this case in under 3 months. "


"Oh by the way as you mentioned the blood I?m pretty sure that if they fully disclose that they know for sure whose the blood is tomorrow that they knew long ago that it wasn?t anything to do with this case , its a very clever game this one and in a way the UK should adopt some of the Portuguese ideas .
Keep quiet then flush em out slowly once you?ve got enough !!
Im sure there?s going to be a lot of shouts of "well I never" and "they knew that all along" etc etc , for sure there are no Keystone Kops involved"
Last edited by Maya on Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Maya » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:29 pm

Posted by scamper at MF, many thanks!

December 30, 2005
From The Times

On scent of success: sniffer dog Keela earns more than her Chief Constable
By Karen McVeigh
HER detective work is unsurpassed, her dedication to duty during some of Britain?s most challenging murder cases unfailing.
Keela, a 16-month-old springer spaniel, has become such an asset to South Yorkshire Police that she now earns more than the chief constable.

Her sense of smell, so keen that she can sniff traces of blood on weapons that have been scrubbed after attacks, has her so much in demand by forces up and down the country that she is hired out at ?530 a day, plus expenses.

Thought to be the only one of her kind, the crime scenes dog earns nearly ?200,000 a year. Her daily rate, ten times that of ordinary police dogs, puts her on more than the chief constable, Meredydd Hughes, who picks up ?129,963.

Keela?s considerable talent in uncovering minute pieces of evidence that can later be confirmed by forensic tests has put her in the forefront of detective work across Britain. She was drafted in to help after the stabbing of the young mother, Abigail Witchalls, in Surrey, and has been involved in high- profile cases across 17 forces, from Devon and Cornwall to Strathclyde.

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She has already helped to apprehend a murderer after sniffing out blood on a knife.

PC John Ellis, her handler, said that police sent for Keela when the scenes of crime squad failed to find what they were looking for. ?She can detect minute quantities of blood that cannot be seen with the human eye,? he said. ?She is used at scenes where someone has tried to clean it up. If blood has seeped into the tiles behind a bath where a body has been, she can find it.?

The spaniel can sniff out blood in clothes after they have been washed repeatedly in biological washing powder, and can detect microscopic amounts on weapons that have been scrubbed and washed.

When faced with a ?clean? crime scene, Mr Ellis and PC Martin Grimes, Keela?s other handler, will first send in Frankie, a border collie, and Eddie, another springer spaniel, to pick up any general scent. Then they wheel in the big gun.

?We take Keela in and she will find the minutest traces of blood,? Mr Ellis said. ?It?s not like looking for a needle in a haystack any more. The other two dogs will find the haystack and Keela will find the needle.?

While the other dogs bark, Keela has been trained to freeze and pinpoint the area with her nose.

Mr Ellis said Keela?s ?perfect temperament? and enthusiasm made her a great asset. ?We thought we would get one or two deployments a year, but things have just snowballed. Obviously when we are called in by other forces they are charged a fee and it?s quite funny to think she can earn more than the chief constable.?

Mr Hughes showed there were no hard feelings. The chief constable said: ?Keela?s training gives the force an edge when it comes to forensic investigation which we should recognise and use more often.? Mr Ellis and Mr Grimes came up with a special training regime to focus on Keela?s remarkable skills. It has proved so successful that the FBI has inquired about it.
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Postby Maya » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:31 pm

Posted by mexx at MF, thank you mexx!

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 6:13 pm Post subject: CADAVER DOGS -


One of the questions we are commonly asked as forensic canine handlers is "How long will scent last in any given situation?" This is a very complicated question, but we want to begin to unravel the secrets. We know some of the elements that will affect residual scent are heat/sun, wind, humidity and rain.

Our first project was conducted in a closed, unused building. Items were placed in different rooms for 5 hours and then removed.

What is Residual Scent?
Residual is defined by Webster's dictionary as - leaving a residue remaining effective for some time.
Within this paper we are using the term in conjunction with decomposing human scent. Residual scent searches are those conducted when no physical form is present. Residual scent is what is left when the decomposing item has been removed. It is something we cannot see and humans cannot necessarily smell.

This project began by accident, so was not preplanned as a residual scent research paper. We make no claims to having ruled out all variables, but are using this project to learn what the variables are and how to more effectively set up our next residual scent project.

Our goal in this paper is to look at residual scent in a closed, unused building and see if we can find out how long a trained cadaver / forensic evidence dog can locate the original scent location. All the dogs used in this project ranged from those with some basic training in the finding of cadaver scent to specialized trained dogs in forensic evidence / body recovery. We see this as just the beginning of ongoing residual scent undertakings.

On November 9, 1996 several items were placed in different areas of a building. The building used was built in the 1930's and was used as classrooms up until 1995. It is part of a large developmental hospital that was built before 1900. Most of the furniture is now gone. There is still human clothing around, chairs, desks, shelves with things on them, wardrobes, curtains, and boxes of books and general effects. The facility has been closed down and most of the buildings are scheduled to be demolished.

Room #11 was used as an activity or day room. It is a large open room. The scent sources were blood (3cc) left to dry on the floor and door in the room.
Room #16 is a closet/storage room off room #11. The scent source was blood (approx. 1cc) on paper on the floor.
Room #5 is a large storage room with closets and shelves. The scent source was a soil sample with dried fluids from a gunshot to the head suicide enclosed in a 50ml vented container. The upper window has been open the whole time in this room.
Room #18 is a large living room. Scent sources were; hair mixed with cadaver scent in the fireplace flue, and a very small amount of blood inside a trash can.
Room #9 is a tiled utility area across the hall from a kitchen area. Scent source was hair and blood in a 50ml container placed in the foot of standing ironing board, so the sample was 5 feet off the ground.

Since the original set up date on November 9, 1996, we have returned to the building 4 times: January 8, 1997, April 2, 1997, July 23, 1997 and December 7, 1997. On our visit in April we found that they had removed most of the original furniture and some boxes of trash, so the building had little left in it. Two of the objects (the ironing board and a box of trash), that had held scent sources were now missing.

Each dog participating in this project was able to find most or all of the locations where the decomposing scent articles had been. We saw dogs, which varied, from full alert and pinpointing to general interest in the room or area.

What we have found so far is; residual scent will last 1 year in a building with minimum environmental influence, or human disturbance. Even after the objects where the scent source had been were removed, the dogs were able to locate the rooms, general area, or pinpoint where it had been.

Each time we have worked the problem we have included teams that had not worked the area before. We now have had 16 teams work the residual scent problem. The dogs have ranged from veteran cadaver trained certified teams to 1 year old puppies (who have been training from 8 weeks of age on cadaver and residual scent).

We noticed that there was a big difference between teams that do mainly live person searching and teams that specialize in forensic evidence / body recovery searches. The general difference being, forensic evidence / body recovery dogs are searched slower, have been taught to do a fine search, check items for scent sources, and alert without seeing an object. Most live human search dogs are trained to keep looking until they find the person and then to alert. Younger and less experienced dogs had fewer problems and were willing to commit to an alert more readily than some of the mainly live human search dogs.

Questions, Variables, Problems, Future Ideas
One of the questions that we have wondered about after observing dogs who have worked the problem prior is; do the dogs remember where items were previously placed or where they alerted before and how long do they remember?

Also, what effect does having an observer that is knowledgeable of all the locations have on the team? Can the handler and or dog read body language that gives them information as to where they should look or alert?

Plans for our next visit include having first time teams work the building by themselves without an observer on deck. The handler will then report any alerts or interest to the observer by showing them on a diagram of the building. This way the handler will have to commit to what the dog has done without any input from the observer. The observer will not be able to influence the team while they are searching.

No food reward will be allowed in the building.

Our next residual scent projects will employ measurable scent items. Example: 3cc of blood mixed with 2oz of human hair, or a specific human bone. This way we can control and repeat the scent items more closely in different conditions.

Room with the blood (3cc) is not a true residual scent problem, as we have defined it, because the blood has been left on the floor and door. But we now have data on how long dogs can locate dried blood.

Our next step in studying residual scent is to set up problems in different environments. We want to compare our results with problems set up in open areas, areas with sun and shade and no building to protect the scent.

Room #11 - dried blood - dogs able to show dried blood on door and floor

Room #5 - soil with dried fluids - dog showing
inside closet where source had been

Room #18 - Hair with scent - all dogs indicated
flue area of chimney where source had been

Room #18 - area where trash can had been - dogs all indicated
area and showed pile of curtains now on floor but had been
hanging above trash can originally. Curtains are porous and
holding scent.


We have found that there is no standard terminology for describing various disciplines, specific search tasks that canines are trained to perform. Therefore, we propose and use the following terminology:
Search Dog
A general term referring to a canine trained for searching based upon visual, olfactory, or auditory clues. This would include the disciplines of: area search dog, trailing search dog, cadaver search dog, decomp search dog, disaster search dog, water search dog, forensic evidence search dog and human remains detection dog.
Area Search Dog
This dog is trained to cover or grid large geographic areas by sampling the air currents for traces of human scent. The dog searches and samples the air currents by ranging/quartering back and forth through the area that is assigned to the team.
This dog is sometimes referred to as "Wilderness Search Dog or "Air Scent Dog" which is another general description of many search dogs. Some area search dogs are also scent specific. They work from a scent article to search for the person that matches the scent article, ignoring all other humans in the area.
Trailing Dog
A canine with the specific ability and training to track/ trail and locate a specific human on the basis of scent.
Cadaver Dog
A narrow term, used in a search-and-rescue context, to indicate a canine primarily trained as a trailing or area search dog that has also received cross training in the location of dead human bodies.
Decomp Dog
The term "decomposition dog" was started by the NecroSearch group. They felt it better describes how dogs will indicate decomposed human scent which includes blood, feces, urine or other material with human scent on it.
Forensic Evidence Dog
A general term that can describe several different kinds of specialties. Include but not limited to firearms, weapons, articles or scent discrimination. There are some people that describe Human Remains Detection Dogs as Forensic Evidence Dogs.
Water Search Dog
A dog trained to locate dead bodies under water. This can be done from a boat or as a shoreline search.
Human Remains Detection Dog
This Detection Dog is a specialist and has never been trained to look for live humans. They specialize in crime scenes, old cases, small scent sources and residual scent. These dogs have been trained to exclude fresh human scent along with all other animal scents.
When would I use an Area search dog?
If the missing person is despondent or a potential suicide you will need area search dogs that have been cross-trained as cadaver search dogs. Using both resources will give the best coverage, whether the missing person is alive or dead.
When would I use a Human Remains Detection Dog?
Human Remains Detections dogs are best used for cases like buried bodies, aged disarticulations, old homicide or suicide cases, bone searches, blood evidence, residual scent, crime scenes, building searches, and vehicle searches.
What are the qualities and skills of a Human Remains Detection Dog?
The Human Remains Detection Dog is trained to alert on residual scent along with other faint scent sources like dried blood. The dog is taught not to disturb the crime scene by digging or retrieving evidence. An important skill the dog is taught is how to search homes or vehicles without causing harm to property. The dog is taught to discriminate between human and all other non-human items. The dogs usually work more slowly and more methodically.
What is CSST?
Canine Specialized Search Team (CSST) is a volunteer resource of the County of Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner's office. CSST uses specially trained and certified canines in the field of forensic evidence and in the location of human remains. We are available for all agencies in the county and as mutual aid with other counties throughout California.
How can I contact CSST?
You can contact us at 888.413.2778
E-mail us at
Can I join?
To join CSST you need to be at least 18 years old; if you are younger you might want to check with your county to see if they have an explorer Search and Rescue program you can join.
If you are in California you might want to visit and learn about other canine teams, i.e. California Rescue Dog Association ~, or Wilderness Finders (Woof) ~
How long does it take to train a dog?
The first time handler will take from 1 1/2 -2 years to train their first dog. At the same time you will also be taking classes on learning map and compass, first aid, crime scene preservation, hazmat, as well as learning how to train your dog. The more time you have to train the faster the training goes. We expect handlers to train 2 to 3 times a week minimum with their dog, more is desirable.
What kinds of breeds can do this work?
Many breeds are capable of doing detection and search work, but the working, herding, sporting and hound groups have the best track record. Some mixed breed dogs have also been successful doing detection and search work.
If you are interested in Human Remains Detection and you do not have a dog, we recommend that you contact us first. Come to a training and see the dogs work and talk to us about the kind of dog you are thinking of getting. If you have a dog, contact us and make an appointment to bring the dog out to training. We will be happy to evaluate your dog.
Can I make a donation to CSST?
Yes ~ CSST is a charitable 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation. All donations are tax deductible and will be greatly appreciated. Please, make checks payable to:

P.O. Box 81, Los Altos, CA 94022-0081

Our team members can boast over 100 years of combined search experience
and have participated in hundreds of searches including:
? Charles Ng & Leonard Lake, Calaveras Co.
? Mexico City Earthquake
? Loma Prieta Earthquake
? Oklahoma City Bombing
? Oakland Firestorm
? Sierra Chemical Co. Explosion, Nevada
? Kristin Smart, Cal Poly SLO
? Amber Schwartz
? Polly Klaas
? Christina Williams
? Xiana Fairchild
? Ground Zero at World Trade Center, New York City
? Laci Peterson
? The Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster


Bev Peabody
Institute for Canine Forensics

The Society for Historical Archaeology Annual Conference
Sacramento, California, January 11-15, 2006


Canine training as an adjunct to fields such as archaeology and anthropology has advanced significantly over the past few years. Canines trained to locate human remains can be subdivided into three broad disciplines: cadaver dogs, human remain detection dogs, and historical human remains detection dogs. Although there are significant overlaps in the skills necessary for certification in these three disciplines, there are also distinct differences.
Cadaver dogs are usually called upon to locate recently deceased individuals in missing person and law enforcement cases. Human remains detection dogs are more likely to be employed to locate human remains related evidence at a crime scene.
Historical human remains dogs are specially trained to locate very old human remains, and are most likely to be employed by archaeologists to locate old burials.

Key Terms
Historical Human Remains, Human Remains Detection, Cadaver, Dog, Search, Canine, Burial.

There are three different types of working canines that find human remains: historical human detection, human remains detection, and cadaver. Significant differences exist in the training, testing, and usage of dogs working in these disciplines. Consistent terms and definitions are important to clearly distinguish the difference between these disciplines.
Historical human remains detection dogs are used to locate human remains that range in age from recently skeletonized to prehistoric.
Human remains detection dogs are used to locate human remains that range in age from recently deceased through all stages of decomposition, including disarticulated and skeletal remains. These dogs are typically employed by law enforcement agencies at crime scenes. They are able to locate trace evidence, blood splatters, and residual scent.
Cadaver dogs are used to locate recently deceased human remains, whole bodies and recently disarticulated bodies on the surface of the ground or hanging above ground. These dogs are also frequently training to locate live subjects.

Training detection dogs usually begins when they are still puppies, at about 6-8 weeks old. The puppy is introduced to the desired scent source in an open area with no distractions. When the puppy looks at or sniffs the source a reward is given. It only takes a few training sessions for the puppy to understand what their new job is. Training sessions are short, but may be repeated three to four times a day. As the puppy matures and learns the scent work, longer and more difficult training problems will commence. For historical work dogs are trained to do a passive alert behavior, usually a sit or down. The dogs are rewarded using food, a favorite toy, or praise from the handler. As the dog continues to advance in their training, multiple scent sources are used in a single training session.
The types of scent sources and their location vary depending on the discipline the dog is being trained for. Dogs being trained to do cadaver work are trained using fresh scent sources including: blood, hair, bone, teeth with residual blood and tissue, and body fluids. The scent sources are located at or above ground level. Human remains detection dogs are trained using scent sources in all stages of decomposition. The scent sources are located above and below ground. Training scenarios emphasize crime scene situations. These dogs are not trained on live human scent or on articles with fresh live human scent. Historical human remains detection canines are trained using older scent sources including: dry old bones, teeth with no blood or tissue remaining, artifacts, old grave dirt, and coffin wood.
Prior to being deployed on actual searches, each discipline must pass a unique set of certification tests. The State of California has developed a certification standard for cadaver dogs. Other states also have developed standards at a state and local levels.
The Institute for Canine Forensics has developed certification standards that address the unique requirements for human remains detection dogs and for dogs focused on historical human remains.

Search Utilization
The field techniques used by each of the three disciplines are also very different. The primary use of historical remains detection dogs is to locate old burial sites. The dogs may be called in to assist with an ongoing archeological research project, to locate burials prior to excavation or construction, or to determine the boundaries of old cemeteries. Historical searches are slow, methodical, and time consuming. Typically a search area is divided into small sections that a handler and dog can work under an hour. Several teams independently search each section, with an observer recording the locations indicated by the dogs. Multiple dogs independently indicating the same location provides extra assurance of accurate results. In cemeteries, placing flags at each location identified by the dogs will often reveal a pattern of rows, which can be documented, photographed, and mapped for future reference.
Human remains detection searches are frequently preformed at crime scenes, which can be in wilderness areas, buildings, vehicles, ponds, rivers, and lakes. The human remains evidence may be buried below ground, on the surface, or even above ground level. These searches are often preformed in conjunction with the execution of a search warrant. The warrant may have specific limitations that must be observed by the team. In other cases, the search is in a public area, but needs to be conducted discreetly in order to avoid alerting potential suspects. Many of these searches are initiated on information gathered during the investigation or passed on by informants. It is common to find no trace of human remains at a search location.
Cadaver searches are usually related to a specific missing person. The missing subject may still be alive or they may be recently deceased. The body may be on the surface or may be above ground. These searches typically require the dog team to cover large areas rapidly. It is not uncommon to be requested repeatedly for the same subject, as new information can clues are gathered.

Hazards and Their Solutions
There are conditions that can make the dog?s work difficult or even hazardous. It is important that the requesting organization be aware of these conditions so that they can be identified in advance, communicated to the handlers, and where possible, plans made to mitigate the unfavorable conditions. The difficult and hazardous conditions are similar for all three disciplines.
Extreme heat or cold, will limit the amount of time the dog can work between rest breaks to as little as a few minutes. Both air temperature and ground temperature need to be considered. Remember the dog?s nose is working at ground level. Often the hottest parts of the day can be avoided; the dogs can work early in the morning, and in the late afternoon and evening. In some cases it may be feasible to reschedule the search for cooler weather, or even for a cooler season.
Soil conditions also play a significant role in the quantity of scent that escapes the ground. Hard baked clay soil is almost impossible to work in any weather, however, watering and probing or drilling may help this situation. Likewise west sticky clay also tends to be less permeable to scent. Probing and drilling may help.
The foxtail is a type of grass with seedpods that have a sharp point and stiff bristles on the back end. Foxtails may enter a dog?s nose or pierce their skin. Once a seed is embedded, the bristles cause it to work deeper and deeper into the dog and the sharp point can continue to penetrate soft tissue. Few handlers will work their dogs in the presence of foxtails, as the result is often expensive veterinary work. Foxtail penetration is occasionally fatal.
Thorns, thick brush, barbed wire, bees, berry bushes, poisons, loose dogs, and traffic are all hazards that may be potential problems.

Requesting Organizations and Their Expectations
It is important that an organization that is requesting canine resources clearly communicate their expectations with the dog handlers. In all cases the organization should expect the responding dogs have been trained not to damage any exposed artifacts or bones, and not to dig or disturb gravesites.
The organizations that request historical human remains dogs include archeologists, cultural resource management firms, native American groups, churches, genealogy groups, and historians. Each of these groups may have different types of projects, specific requirements that are unique to the organization or project.
Typically law enforcement agencies request human remains detection dogs for crime scenes and unattended deaths. Their expectations are that the dog is trained to preserve evidence. Furthermore they expect the handler to be familiar with crime scene protocols, evidentiary procedures, and court testimony.

With a clear understanding of the different disciplines of dogs used to locate human remains, organizations that are considering utilizing dogs to assist with the location of historical human remains should be able to differentiate available canine resources. The organization must also communicate their needs and expectations early in the planning process. Finally the organization must recognize the unique conditions that may pose problems for the dogs, and communicate these situations early in the process. With these things in mind, it should be possible for organizations to make good use of this exciting new resource.

Well-known, accomplished dogs.

Top sniffer dog to join Maddy search
Spaniel used in Ulster murder hunts flies in
Wednesday, August 08, 2007

By Brendan McDaid

The sniffer dog who found the body of murdered Ulsterwoman Attracta Harron has been flown to Portugal in the hunt for the body of Madeleine McCann, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Specially-trained English springer spaniel Eddie and his companion Keela were taken to Praia de Luz complex in the Algarve several days ago as the search for the missing four-year-old intensified.

The police dogs, which are trained to sniff out minute traces of blood, were drafted in after the focus of the investigation again turned on the apartment where the McCann family were staying when Madeleine disappeared 97 days ago.

The dogs, which have also been involved in the Ulster search for missing Tyrone teenager Arlene Arkinson, were yesterday still in Portugal.

The identity of the two hounds emerged as reports that sniffer dogs from the UK found specks in the apartment where the four-year-old was last seen.

As Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate last night clung to the hope that their daughter will be found alive, it is understood forensic tests are being carried out to determine whether the substance is actually blood.

If the tests prove positive, DNA samples could be used to see if there is any match to Madeleine.

Used across the world for his accuracy, seven-year-old hound Eddie helped police put Trevor Hamilton behind bars in 2006 after the victim recovery dog found 63-year- old Attracta Harron's blood on the 23-year-old murderer's burned-out Hyundai.

Eddie, who works for South Yorkshire police, also located Attracta's body in a shallow grave in April 2003.

Last year the dog and his handlers returned to Ulster for a third time to help find missing Arlene Arkinson.

The Tyrone teenager went missing after leaving a disco in Bundoran, Co Donegal, on August 13, 1994.

Both Eddie and Keela have also been used in various disappearance and murder cases in the US and the Republic of Ireland.

Despite the upsurge in activity, Kate and Gerry McCann have said that they are remaining focused on finding their daughter alive.
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Postby Maya » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:31 pm


Posted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:54 am Post subject:

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Postby Maya » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:32 pm


Posted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 10:21 am Post subject:


Human Remains Detection
"Cadaver Dogs"
The latest Police Canine Detector Specialty
by Ofc. Allen Lowy
and Ofc. Pat McAlhany
Miami-Dade Police Department
Canine Unit

A successful HRD program must begin with motivated personnel who readily accept the fact that they will be working and training under morbid scenarios. While the exciting prospect of locating an explosive device, a large cache of narcotics or apprehend a fleeing criminal easily attracts most police canine handlers, few have the requisite interest or motivation for dealing with all phases of human decomposition and disarticulation that will be encountered by the HRD team. The demands placed on the canine handler specializing in human remains detection go beyond dog training and include studies in Forensics. awareness of basic human anatomy and knowledge of the rate of decomposition of human bodies when subjected to varying disposal methods (i.e.: soil type, temperature, scavenger activity, presence of water) and how to conduct "field craft" (i.e.: assessment of a potential grave site or disposal area based on the knowledge that certain changes in the soil, plant life and insect population indicate the possible presence of human remains) must be demonstrated by HRD canine handlers desiring to be successful in the specialty. Once the prospective canine handlers have been chosen, it is necessary to identify suitable canine partners.

Selection of a canine for HRD involves testing (as required before selection for any detector specialty) of the animal's motivation and demeanor as well as its attraction or aversion to odor of human remains. As is the case with potential human team members, not all working police canines are well suited for human remains detection. Use of valid selection criteria for HRD teams is of paramount importance if a successful training experience is to occur and yield a qualified HRD canine team.

After recognizing the need for a HRD program and selecting team members, the focus turns to training, to prepare the teams for deployment during actual investigations. A review of an agency's needs that involve locating and recovering deceased persons will provide useful data which can be used to create training situations that will be similar to real death investigations that HRD teams will become involved in. Training must be designed to include scenarios that closely resemble cases that the HRD team might be expected to handle. Training situations must simulate searches for bodies or the disarticulated remains thereof that have been disposed of or concealed by burying, hanging, placing in water, in vehicles, in structures or under structures, in the environment in which the canine team will normally operate. Effective training must prepare HRD canine handlers to take into consideration the variables of temperature, soil types, terrain, surface and ground water movement and their impact on decomposition rate and availability of the odor of human remains. The variety of handler skills developed during training, combined with the olfactory abilities of a specialized canine partner produce a "team"....

Preparing the police canine specialist for the task of recognizing the odor of human remains and locating its source is an area of uncertainty for many departments because of the mystique that seems to surround the specialty. In reality, training protocols for HRD canines involve application of the same Pavlovian techniques used to motivate a dog to perform any task or trick; familiarize with the behaviors required for the task or trick, creation of opportunities to perform the task or trick and presentation of a desirable reward to motivate the dog to perform the task or trick when directed to do so. The specialized training of the HRD canine begins with the repeated presentation of the odor of remains which is followed by teaching the dog to consistently display a trained alert behavior when encountering the odor. The motivation for the desired canine behavior is the reward which the handler consistently provides when the dog correctly performs the required tasks.

Once the human and canine team members have completed the basics, its time to add variables such as those that will be encountered beyond the controlled training environment. Introduction of the potentially distracting odors of garbage, food, and deceased animals becomes part of the curriculum along with searches of areas where no "odors" have been placed. Initial and ongoing training must include these "proofing" exercises where the team is presented with search areas that contain animal carcasses as well as search areas that have neither dead animal nor human remains odors present. Preparation for real searches includes the realization that not all areas searched are going to yield human remains odors thereof. Thus, a successful training program constantly challenges both the human and the canine team members with reality based, learning experiences..

The completion of preliminary, intensive, HRD training equips the team for the responsibilities of their specialized, investigative assignments. During actual field work, the primary responsibility of the canine handler is to evaluate the circumstances surrounding a case; gather the necessary information and combining it with their specific training to define the search area and formulate a search plan to insure that the dog has the best opportunity to locate the odor of the human remains. If the handler fails to define the search area or make the odor available and the canine never gets near the area where the human remains odor is present, then the handler must accept the blame for the teams' failure. A search is not merely walking around and permitting the dog to randomly sniff an area, it involves careful fact gathering, analysis and appropriate use of tools that are employed to make existing odor available for detection by the dog. Some of the tools that might be employed to increase the availability of odor include venting rods, power tools, a machete or a boat, etc.. Precise identification of a search area is imperative and should include a written record of any procedure used during a search.

Each investigation must be handled as though the area(s) to be searched will be a crime scene. Not only must an accurate written record of the HRD team activities be made, but the team must conduct their search so as not to disturb or alter crime scene evidence. For example, some of the techniques used by conscientious HRD teams include use of canines that display a passive trained alert behavior when locating the odor of human remains. The passive response might consist of the dog assuming a supine position or sitting as close as it can get to the source of the odor. The passive alert involves no action on the part of either team member that would destroy evidence. It is also critical that the HRD team recognize the functions of other specialty units involved as a death investigation progresses. Not only must the team endeavor not to damage anything during their part of the investigation, they must utilize flags or other recognizable means of marking sites requiring further investigation and communicate their needs and methods clearly. A written record as well as a verbal explanation of the HRD teams methods or findings should be provided to the lead investigator(s) and crime scene specialist. Mutual respect must be practiced by all investigative counterparts if a search is going to be fruitful and evidence obtained therefrom be of value in future court proceedings.

To fully appreciate the HRD teams, it is necessary to learn as much as possible regarding the circumstances surrounding investigations in which they are asked to participate. Bodies buried, disarticulated bodies, bodies submerged in water, or hidden in vehicles or structures have been efficiently located by HRD teams. HRD teams are equally important in revealing that there was no odor of human remains present at a designated location, despite an informant's insistence to the contrary. "Clearing" an area by determining that no odor of human remains was available enables the investigation to move on to other venues. HRD teams do not work miracles and in some cases, foot searches have been conducted by the requesting agency following the HRD teams preliminary scan of an area. Use of credible HRD teams will contribute to the expeditious and through conclusion of most searches for human remains.

Source: ... rdogs.html

And here's the link to the article quoted in Post #2: ... 783458.ece

(An aside: I read a post on a forum about dogs that at least one dog used by US Fish and Game officials to help catch poachers was taught to distinguish the scents of different fish species.)

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