In order to properly
utilize the canine unit to its full potential, certain guidelines have been
established which will help the dogs succeed in their efforts.
In view of the number of individuals involved in
the initial search, the following points must be observed if the dog team is to
Request assistance as soon as possible.
the area from all unnecessary foot or vehicle traffic.
not handle or disturb potential scent articles.
If we can have this assistance to start with, the
better our chances are of locating the person. The following information
provides guidelines which will help you better understand what needs to occur
before you call a dog team.
Bloodhound Search and Rescue and handlers are on 24-hour call and
will stay with you as long as you need them. The handlers and their
bloodhounds are there to assist you in your investigation in any way they can.
They are not there to take over your investigation, but remember they have
considerable training in the field and the handler will know the potential and
the limits of his bloodhound.
a good description of the suspect for the handlers. Give a complete and accurate
description of height, weight, build, race, clothes, shoes, coats, hats, etc.;
if the suspect is armed; and if known, the type of weapon.
times police officers will leave their vehicles running. Make sure all officers
turn off their vehicles to keep exhaust fumes clear of the area to be searched
by the bloodhounds as exhaust fumes can destroy scent.
you are the first officer to arrive on a scene where bloodhounds are to be used,
you must protect the scene from any other scent. If the suspect has exited a
vehicle, do so with as little contamination to the rest of the area as possible.
Do not search the vehicle at this point. There will be plenty of time to do so
after the dogs have finished getting scent from inside the car or truck. Do not
let anyone else go near the vehicle nor have it moved until the dog team has
finished. The team will use the last scent on the vehicle to "scent the
dogs". Turn off your own vehicle to keep down the exhaust in the area.
Strong exhaust fumes will cause a dog not to trail or be unable to pick up the
scent. The most important thing for the officer to do at this point is seal off
the area and not let anyone enter and contaminate the search area.
first officer on the search scene needs to keep the area free of any other
scents. This means you will have to protect the crime scene from all persons who
wish to enter. If you are able to do this, the dogs will have a better chance of
following a successful trail. The handler should be the only person allowed into
the search area to insure only the suspect's trail is present. It is difficult
for the bloodhounds to interpret several scents at once; the trail becomes
difficult to follow and the dogs may follow the scent of a police officer that
was at the scene. The handler will preserve evidence at the scene (prints, etc.).
is of the utmost importance. You may hear of trails being followed that are 7 to
10 days old. Texas Bloodhound Search and Rescue
has run successful trail that are in fact this old but, do not count on this
happening. Trails that are several hours old are not much of a problem for a
well-trained bloodhound if you have done your part in protecting the crime scene
area from contamination. Bloodhounds can follow most trails very easily if the
conditions are right. Windy days, freshly plowed fields, and highly
traveled roads may give the bloodhound a problem. Have faith in the dog. Even
with these problems, the suspect has a starting point and a finishing point--let
the dog work.
not touch any item left at the crime scene. The bloodhound may need it to
"scent". Do not pick up guns, clothes or any abandoned items at this
time. There are no items that we will discard as a "possible" scent
article. Items such as body fluids, toilet seats, tissue paper, cigarette butts,
etc. have been used successfully. To preserve scent, the handler will place a
small gauze over a scent article for 15 - 20 minutes to lift the scent. He will
then place the gauze with the scent into a sealed baggy. The handler has had
extensive training in preserving crime scenes and will not disturb fingerprints
or other evidence. Many crime scene identification problems can be resolved if
these instructions are followed.
bloodhound follows scent and not tracks. The tracks do tell the handler this is
the correct trail to follow. Casts of the tracks should be taken after the
handler has lifted any scent with gauze. Casts of tire marks, etc., should be
taken as per any other crime scene search.
bloodhound following scent will often follow a trail over a hundred feet from
where the suspect's tracks were found. You will hear remarks from novice
officers and on-lookers about how the dogs are not on the trail because they are
not following the suspect's tracks. Scent is emitted from the entire body, much
like mist or smoke. A good example would be to watch a cigarette being smoked
and watch the smoke blend into the atmosphere. This is similar to what happens
to scent when it comes off your body. The scent will often settle to the ground
in pockets, sometimes referred to as "pool scent." When a dog comes
upon a pool scent he will show a great deal of interest. Scent settles against
trees, fence posts, buildings, low places, etc. It is sometimes necessary for
the dog to turn over leaves to locate the scent. Many times the scent will
travel some distance from where the subject actually walked. The dog and handler
will run side to side, referred to as a "cast", into the wind in an
attempt to pick up scent from the subject. It may be necessary to run several
casts, consequently it is important to keep all persons out of the area.
are very gentle dogs and will not bite unless the dog has been trained to do so.
We use only purebred, registered bloodhounds who are not vicious. These same
dogs are used to track lost children. Some penal institutions do use a hound
"cross" which has been trained to attack at the end of the trail;
however, we do not. Bloodhounds are silent trailers and will usually bark only
on command. If a trail suddenly gets "hot", the dog may give off a few
bays. The officers, handlers, and bloodhound may be right on top of the suspect
before he knows he is being trailed.
as a law enforcement officer, will be required to guard both the handler and the
bloodhound from harm. Keep your eyes open and keep up with the team. If you are
not in good condition, let another officer, who is, follow the bloodhound team.
Stay behind the dog and handler and do not crowd too close. Usually about
twenty feet back is where you should be but the handler you are with will tell
you where he wants you to be to allow him to effectively work the dog. Be
close enough to protect the team and to return fire if fired upon. Many times, a
handler may run several trails from an area to see if there is anything else
there. Remember, your job is to protect the dog and handler from harm!
bloodhound must complete each trail he starts. We request that should a fugitive
be located in front of the dog, he be kept there until the dog team arrives so
the bloodhound can have the feeling of finishing the trail and
"winning", much the same way a police officer who starts a trail of a
fugitive likes to be in on the capture. The training of these dogs is a
never-ending process and this is an important part of the dog's training.
scent is strong and everyone in a family has what is called "family
scent". They all have a somewhat similar smell; however, there is a
different smell for everyone too. Jails, hospitals, penal institutions, etc.,
have what is called "institutional scent". All of the people there
smell somewhat alike. It is important we be able to get the correct scent from
the person we are looking for if we are to be of any assistance to you.
you have to get a scent item from someone else, make sure the item belongs to
the suspect we are looking for. Many times the scent item provided has been
contaminated by other members of the suspect's family or is from the clothes
hamper where it is embedded with the scent of other family members. The scent
item may be further contaminated by the officer handling it, then placed on the
seat of the squad car to be further contaminated. When this happens it is
impossible for the bloodhound to isolate the correct scent. Try to select the
item yourself and handle it only with a coat hanger. Do not handle this item
with your hands, as this will make it difficult for the dog to tell who we are
looking for. Place the item in a self-sealing baggy can be sealed. The
bloodhound trails the scent given him and if you have not protected the item, he
may follow any one of the scents on the item. It is very important that you have
the right scent.
times while searching for a lost person who has wandered off we find this person
has a mental problem. If this is the case, look where he has gone before. Talk
to someone who knows this person and get any information you can. Many times a
person is found hiding from searchers near the place from which he is missing.
Look under beds, in closets, attics, out buildings, etc. The subject's scent
will be strong in and around his home.
you request Texas Bloodhound Search and Rescue,
it is necessary you provide specific information. The Emergency
Contact Number to the supervisor on duty who will relay
this information to the dog handlers . Once the decision has been made, you will
be notified as soon as possible whether the dog team is en route or not able to