WHAT TYPES OF DOGS ARE AVAILABLE
CCCSAR has four types of dogs available for callout. There are operational wilderness (air scent), cadaver/human remains, trailing, and water recovery dogs.
Wilderness and trailing dogs follow the scent left by a person as they walk through an area. Skin rafts, thousands of particles left by a person traveling through the area, fall from people all the time. Some of the rafts are heavier and fall to the ground, and the trailing dogs follow these rafts. Other rafts are very light and stay suspended in the air to be blown by the breezes. Air scent dogs pick up these rafts and follow them to the subject.
Trailing dogs follow the ground trail where “rafts” have fallen. Handlers will work their dogs in the area the person was last seen to find the direction travled. The dogs trained to do this type of work can walk on the same path or be a few feet off of the trail on the downwind side depending on the amount of wind at the time.
Air scent dogs work with their noses in the wind to check the airflow for the subject’s scent. The handler and dog work into or parallel to the wind to search the assigned area. Air scent dogs can be scent-specific and look for the scent taken from a scent article. These dogs ignore everyone in the area except the subject. Another aspect of this discipline is a dog that is not scent specific and will search for all human scent in the search area. This is particularly helpful when a scent article is not available.
Cadaver dogs are trained to find human decomposition scent, either from an entire body or from small bits and pieces, called human remains. Cadaver dogs are used in a search when a long time has gone by since the person was lost, or it is known an accident took place and the person is assumed to be deceased. If the person has been missing for weeks, months, or years, the search becomes a human remains search because animals and weather conditions will have degraded and scattered the remains.
Water recovery dogs are used when a person has gone missing in a lake or deep river and can be used from the shoreline or from a boat. The dogs pick up the scent of the victim as it rises through the water and escapes into the air. Conflicting water and air currents make these searches particularly difficult when trying to pinpoint the location of the body. Divers and/or side-scan sonar.