An amazing feat involving cadaver dogs was demonstrated this week in Pennsylvania in the horrendous and gruesome case of four missing men who were all found dead. The cadaver dogs were brought in to help search a farm believed to harbor the graves of the four missing men, and they found the mass grave with the first set of human remains buried more than 12-feet down in the ground.
When criminals attempt to hide a body of a dead victim, these bodies are often buried in shallow graves. This is done for the obvious reason of the time and effort it takes to dig a grave. This wasn’t the case in Bucks County, Pennsylvania this week, where police discovered a mass grave that was deeper than 12-feet.
District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub was amazed at what these cadaver dogs were able to accomplish. He spoke to reporters during a midnight news conference near the farm where the bodies were located, according to Philly.com. Weintraub said, “I don’t understand the science behind it, but those dogs could smell these poor boys 12½ feet below the ground.”
Mark Hopkins, who is the chief of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue, said that “it is a science” while attempting to explain just how the dogs manage to be so successful at finding dead bodies. He said, “It is also a bit of an art because it is interpretive.”
— CNN (@CNN) July 14, 2017
According to Philly.com, much of the success of these cadaver dogs have to do with the trainers and the grueling training both dog and trainer go through. In order to train the dogs to pick up on the scent of the cadavers, they need to recognize the smell, so trainers must have something that smells like a rotting corpse to train the dog. Some trainers use a manufactured scent which is sold for such purposes, but others prefer to use the real thing.
According to CNN News,“The dogs hone those skills with training that uses real donated human body parts, including placenta, teeth, bones and human fat.” For this reason, some of the training facilities use cadavers that have been donated to science.
The dogs learn to sniff out the smell of the cadaver while pushing all other smells aside. As far as the training goes, these dogs get a reward for sniffing out one smell and one smell only — the odor of a human cadaver. According to Hopkins, the dogs are able to distinguish the difference between the smell of a dead animal or bird as opposed to a human cadaver.
How did cadaver dogs detect Bucks County bodies 12 feet underground? https://t.co/PlpleyvkZc
— Philly.com (@phillydotcom) July 13, 2017
The dogs have such a sensitive sense of smell that they are able to smell the difference in the way the acid breaks down in a human corpse when compared to another dead species. This makes their use in cases such as the one in Pennsylvania this week extremely valuable.
Before Cosmo DiNardo confessed and offered up the information on where he buried the four missing men, the cadaver dogs were able to sniff out the bodies buried over 12 feet underground. Depending on the trainer, dogs are taught to jump, bark, or sit when they detect the odor of a cadaver.
— Michele C Haddon (@MicheleCHaddon) July 13, 2017
To keep the dogs in constant practice, a trainer will often bring home some soil from a crime scene where a dog successfully sniffed out a cadaver, like this recent scene in Pennsylvania. This is done after the scene has been processed and by going through the proper channels to get permission.
During the training, the smell of the cadaver is put in water, buried, elevated and even put inside of concrete, all for the sake of giving the dogs the experience of finding cadavers in different circumstances. According to Philly.com, there are dogs that can even find cadavers in water.
With all the modern technology today, there doesn’t seem to be anything better than sniffing out a dead body than the nose of one of these trained cadaver dogs. With more than 50 law enforcement agents combing over every inch of the Pennsylvania farm, they didn’t find the bodies of the boys until the cadaver dogs were brought in. You can check out how the cadaver dogs are trained in the video below.
[Featured Image by Louis Lanzano, File/AP Images]