The first two RCMP dog teams to be trained by the RCMP to detect human remains finished their training at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre (PDSTC) in Innisfail, Alberta. The RCMP is the only Canadian police agency using real human remains to train its dogs. Typically, animal source material or medical waste are used to train police dogs. “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 in charge of the human remains detection training at the RCMP PDSTC.
The human remains used for the training of RCMP dogs are provided by the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service through a donor program. 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 (E Division), Alberta (K Division), Manitoba (D Division) and Nova Scotia (H Division). The dogs teams from British Columbia and Nova Scotia are fully operational. The dog teams from Alberta and Manitoba are expected to have completed their training soon. Currently, there are 166 RCMP dog teams across Canada. They will be trained on human remains detection according to the needs of the divisions.