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Reliability of Bloodhounds in Criminal Investigations

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 48 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2003 Pages: 811-816
Lisa M. Harvey Ph.D.; Jeffrey W. Harvey B.Sc.
Date Published
July 2003
6 pages
This study examined the reliability of bloodhounds in distinguishing between different individual humans.
Substantial evidence has suggested that dogs are capable of differentiating between individual humans by their scent. Police departments in such places as Belgium and the Netherlands use dogs to link criminal suspects to a crime scene. This experiment was conducted to scientifically validate the success of bloodhounds in matching human scent with the correct individual. Eight bloodhounds, three novice and five veteran, that were trained in human scent discrimination were placed on trails in an environment that mimicked a real-life scenario. A scent transfer unit was used to transfer each individual’s scent to a gauze pad, which was then sealed in a zip-loc bag and given to the handler. Results of the trailing indicated that veteran bloodhounds can reliably trail and identify an individual under various conditions. The error rate of the veteran bloodhound-handler team was found to be low. The authors conclude that the use of bloodhounds for suspect identification is a useful and reliable tool for law enforcement personnel. Tables, references