Death, Decomposition, and Detector Dogs : From Science to Scene book cover
1st Edition

Death, Decomposition, and Detector Dogs
From Science to Scene

ISBN 9780429251726
Published August 27, 2012 by CRC Press
247 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping

What are VitalSource eBooks?

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Death, Decomposition, and Detector Dogs: From Science to Scene is designed to help police investigators and Human Remains Detection K9 handlers understand the basics of forensic taphonomy (decomposition) and how to most effectively use a human remains detection (HRD) K9 as a locating tool. The book covers basic anatomy and the physiology of canine olfaction along with some of the unique characteristics that allow a dog to work.

Using concise and understandable explanations along with numerous photographs, the book covers the stages of decomposition and how they are affected by the environment; what is currently understood about the chemical profile of odor from human remains; how weather, topography, ground cover and terrain can affect odor dispersion; and different types of mapping and weather data that can be used before and during deployment of the HRD K9.

The final chapter ties it all together by providing case reports about decedents who have been found in different locations in a variety of environmental conditions. By learning how these variables can affect how and what is found, handlers and investigators will be better prepared to meet the challenges of their jobs.

Table of Contents

Know the Nose
Odor Detection and Olfactory Receptor Cells
Species and Breed Differences
Orthogonal Devices
Forensic Taphonomy: Breaking Down Is Hard to Do
Taphonomy Defined
The Body
Normal Cell Composition
Cellular Decomposition
Systemic Decomposition
Stages of Decomposition
Stage 1: Immediate
Stage 2: Early
Stage 3: Putrefaction
Stage 4: Post Putrefaction
Final Breakdown
Special States of Decomposition
Adipocere: Grave Wax or Death Soap
Bugs, Bodies, and Beyond
Primary Environmental Factors
Microbiology: The Little Bugs
Entomology: The Big Bugs
Meet the Pigs
Secondary Environmental Variables
Extreme Conditions
Making Sense Out of Scent: The A, B, C, D’s
A: About
B: Bacteria and Bodies
C: Chemistry (Made Simple)
D: Decomposition
Earth, Wind, and Odor
Chemistry: Highlights of Chapter
The Dog’s Nose Knows
Weather or Not
Earth: The Dirt on Soil
Ground Cover: Plants and More
Water World
Special Situations: Inside
What’s New: Back to Orthogonal
Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks Using New
Weather or Not
Using This Information
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Case 1: Cold Weather/Short Term/Land
Case 2: Hot Weather/Short Term/Land
Case 3: Hot Weather/Short Term/Water
Case 4: Long Term/Land
Case 5: Long Term/Land–Water
Case 6: Long Term/Burial
Beginning of the End

View More



Susan Stejskal, LVT, PhD, DABT, is a board-certified toxicologist, licensed veterinary technician, and Special Deputy/Human Remains Detection (HRD) dog handler with the St. Joseph County (Michigan) Sheriff’s Department. With more than 25 years of educational and professional experience, she has for the past 10 years participated in land and water searches throughout Michigan and the central Midwest. Stejskal is founder and executive director of Recover K9, a nonprofit organization that provides support for much of her service and educational work. Dr. Stejskal’s work in toxicology and pathology and her experience as a dog handler led to the development of practical forensic science training for law enforcement dog handlers, detectives, and crime scene technicians. She provides this training for police agencies throughout the country.