found that there is no standard terminology for describing various disciplines,
specific search tasks that canines are trained to perform. Therefore,
we propose and use the following terminology:
A general term referring to a canine trained for searching based upon
visual, olfactory, or auditory clues. This would include the disciplines
of: area search dog, trailing search dog, cadaver search dog, decomp
search dog, disaster search dog, water search dog, forensic evidence
search dog and human remains detection dog.
This dog is trained to cover or grid large geographic areas by sampling
the air currents for traces of human scent. The dog searches and samples
the air currents by ranging/quartering back and forth through the area
that is assigned to the team.
This dog is sometimes referred to as "Wilderness Search Dog or
"Air Scent Dog" which is another general description of many
search dogs. Some area search dogs are also scent specific. They work
from a scent article to search for the person that matches the scent
article, ignoring all other humans in the area.
A canine with the specific ability and training to track/ trail and
locate a specific human on the basis of scent.
A narrow term, used in a search-and-rescue context, to indicate a canine
primarily trained as a trailing or area search dog that has also received
cross training in the location of dead human bodies.
The term "decomposition dog" was started by the NecroSearch
group. They felt it better describes how dogs will indicate decomposed
human scent which includes blood, feces, urine or other material with
human scent on it.
A general term that can describe several different kinds of specialties.
Include but not limited to firearms, weapons, articles or scent discrimination.
There are some people that describe Human Remains Detection Dogs as
Forensic Evidence Dogs.
A dog trained to locate dead bodies under water. This can be done from
a boat or as a shoreline search.
Remains Detection Dog
This Detection Dog is a specialist and has never been trained to look
for live humans. They specialize in crime scenes, old cases, small scent
sources and residual scent. These dogs have been trained to exclude
fresh human scent along with all other animal scents.
would I use an Area search dog?
If the missing person is despondent or a potential suicide you will
need area search dogs that have been cross-trained as cadaver search
dogs. Using both resources will give the best coverage, whether the
missing person is alive or dead.
would I use a Human Remains Detection Dog?
Human Remains Detections dogs are best used for cases like buried bodies,
aged disarticulations, old homicide or suicide cases, bone searches,
blood evidence, residual scent, crime scenes, building searches, and
are the qualities and skills of a Human Remains Detection Dog?
The Human Remains Detection Dog is trained to alert on residual scent
along with other faint scent sources like dried blood. The dog is taught
not to disturb the crime scene by digging or retrieving evidence. An
important skill the dog is taught is how to search homes or vehicles
without causing harm to property. The dog is taught to discriminate
between human and all other non-human items. The dogs usually work more
slowly and more methodically.
Canine Specialized Search Team (CSST) is a volunteer
resource of the County of Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner's office.
CSST uses specially trained and certified canines in the field of forensic
evidence and in the location of human remains. We are available for
all agencies in the county and as mutual aid with other counties throughout
can I contact CSST?
You can contact us at 888.413.2778
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To join CSST you need to be at least 18 years old; if you are younger
you might want to check with your county to see if they have an explorer
Search and Rescue program you can join.
are in California you might want to visit and learn about other canine
teams, i.e. California Rescue Dog Association ~ www.CARDA.org,
or Wilderness Finders (Woof) ~ www.searchdogs.com
long does it take to train a dog?
The first time handler will take from 1 1/2 -2 years to train their
first dog. At the same time you will also be taking classes on learning
map and compass, first aid, crime scene preservation, hazmat, as well
as learning how to train your dog. The more time you have to train the
faster the training goes. We expect handlers to train 2 to 3 times a
week minimum with their dog, more is desirable.
kinds of breeds can do this work?
Many breeds are capable of doing detection and search work, but the
working, herding, sporting and hound groups have the best track record.
Some mixed breed dogs have also been successful doing detection and
If you are interested in Human Remains Detection and you do not have
a dog, we recommend that you contact us first. Come to a training and
see the dogs work and talk to us about the kind of dog you are thinking
of getting. If you have a dog, contact us and make an appointment to
bring the dog out to training. We will be happy to evaluate your dog.
I make a donation to CSST?
Yes ~ CSST
is a charitable 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation. All donations are
tax deductible and will be greatly appreciated. Please, make checks
Box 81, Los Altos, CA 94022-0081