Fox News is reporting that a cadaver dog made a hit on the floor of missing baby Lisa Irwin’s parents’ bedroom Monday. That information was included in the affidavit used to get a warrant to search the Irwin home. The search began on Wednesday.
Cadaver Dogs Reliable
Cadaver dogs are considered highly reliable, according to Dogs Don’t Lie. They average about 92 percent accuracy picking up the scent of death in scientific tests. In 100 cases, cadaver dogs may alert erroneously 0 to 9 times and may miss 0 to 25 times. In actual conditions, the dogs are able to find scattered human remains in 57 to 100 percent of cases. They are able to sniff out skeletonized remains even when the remains are deeply buried.
Bloodhounds are especially useful in searches involving children because they can pick up the scent of a body being carried. They also have some 60 times the tracking capabilities of other search dogs.
Scent Tracking Mechanism a Mystery
While cadaver dogs are considered highly reliable, scientists don’t quite understand how they are able to differentiate and track scents. All agree it is some form of chemical marking, but some suspect it’s outgassing of volative fatty acids, methane, urea, cadaverine, and various ionic compounds while other scientists think that unique protein markers are responsible.
Cadaver Dog Hit Significance to Lisa Irwin Investigation
The police dog hitting on the Irwin bedroom floor does not necessarily mean baby Lisa died and was at that location. Cadaver dogs don’t distinguish whose decomposed human tissue they smell. The scent of decomposed tissue need not mean anyone died at all. Sometimes decomposing tissue is detected because of bloody clothing left behind after an injury or used sanitary napkins having been present.
It’s especially important that investigators not jump to hasty conclusions or use uncorroborated dog alert evidence as circumstantial evidence of guilt for these reasons.
While the cadaver dog evidence is an ominous sign that police may now search for baby Lisa’s body, that conclusion is not a given. Especially with police still investigating reports of a man having been seen with a baby in suspicious circumstances the night Lisa Irwin was reported missing from her crib, there’s still room for hope that what the cadaver dog smelled was not baby Lisa.