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As the UK government has cut funding to police forces over the last 4 years by some 20%, some of the first hatchets have slashed away dog and mounted sections, with hundreds of dogs being retired since 2009, and at least 5 forces disbanding their mounted sections completely.

In Spain, the opposite is happening, with the value of police animals being celebrated, and more dogs and horses being used in the detection of crime and assisting the security services in their duties.

In 2013 in Spain, expert dogs, often referred to as “cadaver dogs”, were active in solving 15 major crimes with the Guardia Civil alone, yet in the first six months of this year, that figure has already reached 16 occurrences.

From their base with the Servicio Cinológico de la Guardia Civil in El Pardo, four of their specialist dogs have been showcased this week. Elton, Pipo, Dzana and Fatal are Belgian Shepherds, and are able to detect the odour of human remains for years after the person has died, even able to distinguish between human and animal remains.

Even if blood has been cleaned away using disinfectant or other chemical cleaners, these dogs can still detect the often sordid truth hiding underneath, as was the case in June, when a murder took place and was hidden by the perpetrator who meticulously cleaned the scene of the crime, as well as all clothing worn during the act, hiding all evidence of wrongdoing.

But Elton and Pipo, who train daily with their human companions Juan Manuel Sánchez and Israel Herrero, found traces of blood, imperceptible to the eye and odourless, which incriminated the main suspect as the culprit.

In April, the dogs took part in the search of a site where a dismembered and partially buried body was found near Las Rozas. Suspicions pointed to a relative of the victim, those suspicions confirmed when the dogs clearly identified a number of locations containing blood deposits, and even the murder weapon, an axe which had been cleaned of all traces, or so the murderer thought.

As part of their training, when one of these dogs finds a piece of evidence, they simply remain in place, without digging or even touching the site, so as not to damage or contaminate evidence, alerting their handler of their find.

Whereas the use of dogs as “expert witnesses” may seem an unusual practice, the value of their work is self evident in an ever increasing number of cases. Israel Herrero agrees that although “much progress has been made”, they must all “continue working to improve, so that increasingly more detail can be found and we can cope with any situation”.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44281/

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