The weather outside is frightful . . .

K9 Pocket's response to the coldest day of the year (temperature below zero):

 "Mom, I really really want to go out.  I LOVE to play in the snow.  I won't get cold, I promise!"   . . .

"OK, since I can't play outside, then I will help you with your work."

 I guess she really likes helping, as she keeps jumping up on my keyboard.  I think she may be telling me I need to start writing more blog posts! 

pocket typing.jpg

KSP uses "different kind of K9"

 Slain Officer Jason Ellis

Slain Officer Jason Ellis

Last Thursday, as the intensive search for the person(s) who ambushed and murdered Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis entered its fifth week, the Kentucky State Police deployed "a different kind of K9" from an outside agency to help with the investigation.  Master Trooper Norman Chaffins, spokesman for KSP's  Elizabethtown post, explained that "different dogs have different search abilities."  

This is so true, yet search dogs are often under-utilized by law enforcement because their abilities/training is not-understood.  Perhaps this is why the KSP waited 5 weeks before deploying outside agency search dogs.  It would have been more effective and valuable to use search dogs in the hours/days immediately following Officer Ellis' murder.

That said, I am pleased that KSP has publicly recognized  the value of search dogs as unique, helpful investigative tools and is using search dogs to help bring Officer Ellis' killers to justice.   Hopefully, the KSP will continue to use and more effectively deploy search dogs in other cases.  


 

Welcome Blackbriar's Master Pickpocket

KYK9 is thrilled to introduce our newest K9 member, 12-week-old Blackbriar's Master Pickpocket.  K9 Pocket is a Parson Russell Terrier bred by Pat Wilcox and Laurel Seison, Pocket's excellent confirmation, temperament and working instinct comes from the line of Imis of Willowall, the foundation of Blackbriar's breeding program.  

I have been honored to have the tutelage, expertise, and honesty of Pat Wilcox and Laurel Seison iselecting K9 Pocket to join KYK9, K9 Remy and K9 Scout forged this friendship last summer when Pat Wilcox, who is one of the country's top judges of PRT's, watched them search.  Impressed, Pat generously offered to help KYK9 find its next PRT search dog . . . And, today we proudly present K9 Pocket! We hope you will welcome her to the KYK9 team and help her grow into a search dog who will make Remy and Scout proud.  

Pocket-dogwood.jpg

Kentucky Bloodhound Search and Rescue

Kentucky Bloodhound Search and Rescue is a great SAR unit.  They have excellent dogs and even better handlers.  These folks understand the true meaning of team.  Although K-9 Remy and K-9 Scout are Parson Russell Terriers, they love working with Bloodhounds and KY K9 SAR is proud to have been voted a member of the group. In addition to their web page, check out this video posted by handler Stephanie Rausch of her puppy bloodhound playing.  Enjoy.  

 

FBI Human Scent Dogs Help Solve Crimes

A New Breed: Scent Dog Program Gets Results.  FBI News Release 12/23/10

Canine olfaction, courtesy Prof. Gary Settles, Penn State

When an Anchorage, Alaska nurse went missing in 2007 and was found dead six weeks later, the FBI Laboratory’s Evidence Response Team Unit (ERTU) was called in and asked to bring some experts—our specially trained human scent evidence canines Tinkerbelle, Lucy, and Casey. Following human scent trails from several places linked to the killing, the dogs kept ending up at the same location—the house of a man who lived near the victim.

The neighbor was eventually charged with the murder. In a pre-trial hearing his lawyer challenged the science behind the scent evidence and asked that it be thrown out. The judge ruled that the science was indeed sound, and fully admissible in court. Last February, the man pled guilty to the killing and was sentenced to life without parole.

Human scent evidence has been used in federal court before.  However, the federal court judge’s ruling sets an important precedent—and by extension acknowledges the Bureau’s efforts to promote the highest standards when scent dogs are used in investigations.

The use of dogs by law enforcement is nothing new. Bloodhounds have traditionally been called upon to pick up the trail of fugitives and missing persons. FBI police and our special agent bomb technicians use dogs trained to sniff for explosives, and we have victim recovery dogs trained specifically to seek out the smell of blood and decomposing bodies.

But our Human Scent Evidence Team (HSET), established in 2002 and now a full-time program in the ERTU, is something of a new breed. After they are trained and certified—a process that can take two to three years—HSET dogs can help point investigators in the right direction when time and resources may be in limited supply—and their efforts may later be scrutinized in the courtroom.


Here’s how the program works:

  • At the crime scene, in addition to collecting fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence, ERT technicians collect scents by using a trace evidence vacuum similar to those used for collection of hair and fibers. Human scent traces, which can be obtained from almost any object, are vacuumed onto a sterile surgical dressing and placed in an airtight glass jar (they can be stored that way for an extended period of time).
  • Dogs are trained to smell the collected scent by sniffing the scent pad and indicating either a scent match or a non-match. If there is a matching trail of human odor, the dog will follow an invisible “odor highway” in the same way humans might recognize streets, roadways, and intersections.
  • In most cases handlers know nothing about the cases they are called in to work. They are simply given a scent pad and asked to follow a trail if one is found.

Stockham is working with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to establish a uniform set of training and certification standards that would apply to all scent dogs used in investigations.

 “Our goal is to promote a science-driven program with the highest standards of training, certification, and professionalism,” Stockham explained. “It’s part of the FBI Laboratory’s commitment to provide exceptional forensic science services to our federal, state, local, and international law enforcement partners.”

Resources

FBI Evidence Response Team Unit