What scientific confidence can we place on a cadaver dog's findings?

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Offline enquirer

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I am asking this question because different police forces seem to have different opinions on their reliability.

For example, the finding of a death scent by cadaver dogs was used as evidence to convict someone in a murder case in Edinburgh this year, despite no body being found.

However, the Metropolitan police have recently discounted the death scent detected by another cadaver dog in the apartment belonging to the McCanns at the time their daughter went missing.

So, scientifically, what confidence can be placed on their ability to detect cadaver odour?


Offline CliffordK

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I would think the biggest utility of cadaver dogs would be locating cadavers. 

Most trained dogs will have a specific response to a stimulus.  I.E.  it is more than just interest that would lead them to give a drug response, weapons response, cadaver response, etc.

The response might be good enough to justify a search warrant, however, there is always risk of false positives. 

It would be hard to convict based on a dog's actions without the drugs, weapons, cadaver, etc, as it then really is little more than a subjective and potentially biased interpretation of the handler.

Use the dogs to find THE cadaver, not where A cadaver presumably once was located.


Offline JimBob

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I didn't know dead dogs were used by police forces Live dogs are rater damned good at doing the job trained for, MUCH better than humans.
The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein


Offline Gordian Knot

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I do not know the case you are referring to. I find it hard to believe that the guilt or innocence of someone would be based solely on a dog's scent ability. As a small portion of a much larger proof of guilt, sure. But on the death scent along?
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