The Science of scent - how cadaver dogs detect human remains


Published on MedED:  22 October 2020
Type of article: Summary
Sources: A moment of Sciencea Subsidery of DNBC
I doubt if many of us have ever thought of the fact that a K9 search dog could possibly bring closure to a victim’s family and could also contribute to potential justice in criminal cases.
These incredible dogs are trained for years and are able to detect remains in all stages of decomposition they are also able to distinguish between human and animal remains.  They have contributed to many cases being solved and deceased loved ones remains being recovered, even years after going missing.
Sonia Geiss, from the South Caroline K9 search team explains “For a dog it doesn’t matter what odor they’re looking for. It’s just what you teach them to look for. Whether it’s narcotics, human remains, bedbugs- it doesn’t matter.”
Each dog also has their own way of working, depending very much on their personality.

Contributor: Aldeen van der Walt
Aldeen van der Walt previously worked in Dead Body Management Education, at the Forensic Unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross. She is passionate about anthropology and forensic pathology, and is committed to raising the profile and access to the forensic pathology education across the Sub-Saharan African region.

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