Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Central Police Canine Training Unit in Poland Used for Large-Scale Study of Drug Dogs

Shepherd Working in Unfamiliar Location (courtesy T. Jezierski)
Scientific research is frequently constrained by a laboratory’s funding level and available personnel, as well as such factors as the time limit within which a graduate student must gather data for a thesis.  This often means that the number of animals that can be evaluated is severely restricted to only a few, as can be noted in many studies involving the ability of dogs to detect chemicals, diseases, contaminants, wildlife, etc. 

Instead of bringing a few dogs into the laboratory, Dr. Tadeusz Jezierski and colleagues at the Polish Academy of Sciences were given access to the central canine training unit of the Polish police and gathered an immense amount of data from tightly controlled trials of dogs that had already been deemed fit for field work.  Statistics were gathered concerning 68 dogs and over 1,200 experimental searching tests (517 with Labrador retrievers, 440 with German shepherds, 203 with terriers, and 59 with English Cocker spaniels).

Vehicle Sniff (courtesy T. Jezierski)
This allowed an analysis of the relative effectiveness of specific breeds used by the Polish police (most effective to least: German shepherds, English Cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers, terriers), and established which drugs are most accurately indicated by the dogs (in order from most easily detected to most difficult: marijuana, hashish, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin).  The trials were run at training centers where the rooms were familiar to the dogs and in stables and storerooms that were not familiar to them.

Many new aspects of working canines came to light while others have been known for years. As an example, contrary to the belief of many police dog handlers, the dogs performed equally efficiently in both known and unknown locations.  It was also possible to determine how long residual drug odors were detectible by dogs working at different types of sites.  As contributors to the study, we are constrained by the Journal’s author agreement in how much we can say here, but the article is now posted on the website of Forensic Science International.   

Jezierski, T., Adamkiewicz, E., Walczak, M., Sobczynska, M., Gorecka-Bruzda, A., Ensminger, J., and Papet, E.  Efficacy of Drug Detection by Fully-Trained Police Dogs Varies by Breed, Training Level, Type of Drug, and Search Environment.  Forensic Science International, 237, 112-118.   

This blog was written by L.E. Papet and John Ensminger.

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