The first police dogs were trained to detect human remains at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail.
The RCMP is the only Canadian police agency that’s using real human remains to train its dogs. Typically, animal source material or medical waste are used.
“Using real human remains enables us to teach the dogs the exact odour they will be looking for. This way, they can rapidly differentiate between animal and human remains and locate human remains more effectively,” explains Sergeant Robert Heppell, dog team trainer.
The remains used are provided by the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service. Donors and their families have specifically chosen to give their remains to the RCMP human remains detection dog training program.
“This additional dog skill will have a direct impact on the RCMP’s ability to collect evidence for ongoing investigations, to make progress in historical investigations, and to provide closure to grieving families,” says Inspector Akrum Ghadban, officer in charge of the RCMP Police Dog Service.
The four dog teams participating in this first training are from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. There are 166 RCMP dog teams across Canada that will be trained on human remains detection, according to the needs of their divisions.