Sunday 4 November 2012

What's that smell?

Have just returned from a frankly freezing weekend near Camberley, where I spent most of the time standing outside in the cold, next to a lake. Half of you may be thinking 'Sounds like fun', and half may wonder 'What on earth possessed you?' Well, I was at an exclusive seminar workshop about search and detection dogs, specifically interested in human remains detection (HRD) dogs (sometimes referred to charmingly as 'cadaver dogs'). The whole weekend was absolutely fascinating, and really good fun! It was run by the International Rescue Training Centre Wales, which specialises in training mountain rescue dogs (for living people), and detection dogs for human remains on land and in bodies of water. We were treated to live demonstrations of protection dogs attacking violent intruders, explosive detection dogs, and dogs scenting human anologue (pig) remains on land and over water.
Decomposed piglet remains about to be hidden under water as a target for the human remains detection dog to find.
The human remains detection dog, handler and search team starting their search for submerged remains.

My new PhD student has just started research, using the Forensic Fieldwork Facility, into identifying and quanitifying the gaseous products of decomposition, for comparison with HRD dog efficiency. This research will add much needed scientific rigour to the process of HRD dog training and assessment, in the UK and hopefully abroad. If you are interested in finding out more, please drop me a line. We're both looking forward to the next seminar...but I will definitely wear my thermals next time!