The first two RCMP canine teams to be taught to sniff out human remains have graduated from the force’s police dog training centre in central Alberta. RCMP working dog Genie sits beside a box to indicate that human remains are contained inside in an undated police handout image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-RCMP

Police dogs trained to detect human remains

RCMP dogs get trained in central Alberta to detect human remains

The first two RCMP canine teams to be taught to sniff out human remains have graduated from the force’s police dog training centre in central Alberta.

What makes their training even more unusual is that real human remains were used.

Mounties say they are the only Canadian police agency to do so.

Typically, animal remains or medical waste are used.

The human remains used for training at Innisfail, Alta., are provided by donors and their families through the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service.

The force says the dogs’ added skill set will help collect evidence, make progress in historical investigations and provide closure to grieving families.

“Using real human remains enables us to teach the dogs the exact odour they will be looking for. This way, they can rapidly differentiate between animal and human remains and locate human remains more effectively,” trainer Sgt. Robert Heppell said in a release Monday.

The four dog teams participating in the initial training round were from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

The dogs from B.C. and Nova Scotia have completed their training, while the others from Alberta and Manitoba are expected to finish by the end of this week.

Related: Snow falls, search continues in Silver Creek

There are 166 RCMP dog teams across Canada.

The Canadian Press

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