It’s common knowledge that dogs have a very keen sense of smell, one that is significantly stronger than that of humans. But did you know that their sense of smell is so strong that dogs can actually locate bodies that are submerged in water? For a group of dogs in the state of Ohio, a little training and the promise of a toy are all it takes to get them to locate corpses in the water.
When a person goes missing, a search typically begins very quickly. All avenues are pursued, including dredging nearby bodies of water. Divers or even sonar equipment can be used to potentially locate a body that is in the water, but it is time consuming and not necessarily an exact science. In Ohio, dogs have been used for this important search since 2012. In 2016, the search dogs throughout the state were used on the water 13 times. In mid-2017, they have been used 21 times so far. Two new dogs were added to the team to ensure there is proper coverage on the water when a multi-day search is taking place.
However, these specially trained dogs don’t just search on the water. They are also used for drug searches and finding lost or missing persons. So, how can a dog possibly locate a body that is submerged in water? Sure, their keen sense of smell is a great start. But dogs can smell a body in the water because it gives off scents and gasses once the heart stops. This is what they detect, though sometimes the scent can be scattered by the wind.
The dogs are incredible in action, according to their handlers. They not only sniff the air, but they also use their tongue to “taste” the scent to point humans in the right direction. They will also begin to wag their tails and get more excited as they get closer to the source of the smell. Once they locate their target, they get a toy. Their handlers get to help families and loved ones with closure.