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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200469 Find in a Library
Title: Cadaver Dog and Handler Team Capabilities in the Recovery of Buried Human Remains in the Southeastern United States
Journal: Journal of Forensic Sciences  Volume:48  Issue:3  Dated:May 2003  Pages:617-621
Author(s): Alanna E. Lasseter B.A.; Keith P. Jacobi Ph.D.; Ricky Farley; Lee Hensel
Date Published: May 2003
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Five field trials tested the ability of four cadaver dog and handler teams to detect buried human remains in various forested areas during the summer months near Tuscaloosa, AL, with the remains ranging in decomposition from fresh to skeletonized.
Abstract: Cadaver dogs are air-scent dogs trained to recognize the generic scent of human decomposition. They are trained to give an "alert" when they detect any type of human decomposition, whether it is a recently dead body or just remnants of fluid and tissue from a decomposed body. The optimal conditions for using cadaver dogs are when the ground is moist, the soil is loose, there is a light breeze to circulate the scent, and the air temperature is cool (40-60 degrees F). The cadaver dog and handler teams that participated in this study were volunteers from a list of approximately 20 known teams from the Southeast. Four teams were able to participate in the project. Weather conditions during the trials were sunny and hot. Beginning in the morning, by the time the trials ended later in the day the temperatures were always in the high 80's and lower 90's. The humidity was high and the wind was usually calm or absent. Detection levels for human remains varied among the teams, with some teams having success in locating human remains at different stages of decomposition, buried human remains at different depths, and buried decomposed human and animal remains. Fresh and skeletonized remains were found equally by the cadaver dogs. Dog handlers clearly affected the reliability of the cadaver dog performance. A study of the videotapes from the trials found that the dogs sometimes gave signals that human remains were present, but the handler ignored the cues. The results of the trials indicate the need for standardized training for all dog and handler teams. 6 tables and 9 references
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Death investigations; Investigative techniques; Police dog training; Police dogs
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