Cadaver Search Dogs Bring Closure To Distraught Families!
17 Dec 2014
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Lately, a dog can sometimes be seen at the bow of a boat on River Clyde, sniffing the water. This isn’t playing but official police work, and there is only one trained dog in Scotland who performs this important task.
Barra, the English Springer Spaniel, is a very special member of the Scotland K9 Search & Recovery team. Barra is the only specially trained dog in Scotland to assist K9 Search 7 rescue, to search for dead bodies that may be submerged in water. Along with trained water search team, Barra is able to cover lakes and rivers and perform searches in lesser time as compared to other search techniques.
Iain, a volunteer coastguard officer, first became involved with search dogs when he realised how important closure is for families who have lost their loved ones. He read up on cadaver search dogs and got Barra to work with him. For training, they trained under one of UK’s most experienced dog trainers, former police inspector Mick Swindles from Search Dogs UK. Mick Swindles also trains police dogs and has been awarded a Home Office Research Award to study the training and use of cadaver search dogs.
Instead of human remains, pig flesh is being used for training purposes as the anatomy of pigs is compatible with humans. The dogs are being trained with pig remains at different levels of decomposition to be able to identify the submerged body. When the dogs are on the boat, they use their strong sense of smell to detect the gases that the dead body would release. Once identified, the handler will leave a marker for the search and rescue team to dive and recover the body.
Mick is currently training more dogs to be deployed across Europe and Iain hopes that Scotland Police Department extends a more cooperative hand to enroll more cadaver search trained dogs.