Searching victims in dark buildings

Searching victims in dark buildings

Our rescue dogs were put to the test in a closed factory in Limburg. In this dark building, the dogs learned to deal with the fact that scents can behave very differently here than in a normal outdoor situation. Since we wanted the dogs to only use their nose for practice, this dark hall came in handy. This way the dog could not make any visual contact with the victim.

Zoekactie Moby
Moby finds a victim in a dark building, the flashlights only came on after alerting correctly.

Why is searching in buildings so different?

Dogs pick up scents in several different ways. One of those methods is based on skin particles that you constantly lose as a human being. These particles are heavy enough to fall to the ground and stay there, forming a scent track. When the dog is following such a track, we’re talking about trailing.

A different way scent can spread is by aerosolised particles that can be carried by wind for several kilometers. These particles can be body odour, pheromones, sweat or even perfume, deodorant and clothing. This way a scent cone is formed from the location of the victim which gets wider as the distance increases. When the dog is following this kind of track, we’re talking about air-scenting.

Outdoors, scent of the victim is carried in a fairly predictable way by the wind, since there aren’t that many obstacles that can carry the scent in different directions. In buildings that’s more difficult since there might be no wind, or a draft is created.When draft drives the scent to an obstacle, for example a wall, it will be deflected in all possible directions. This makes it very challenging for the dog to locate the victim.

For example, during an exercise by one of our beginner dogs, it turned out that the smell of the victim was driven towards a second door. The dog therefore caught the strongest odor at that door. This was a very instructive moment for the dog when it finally found the victim at the right location.

Zo bleek tijdens een oefening van één van onze beginnende honden, dat de geur van het slachtoffer richting een tweede deur werd gedreven. De hond ving daardoor de sterkste geur op bij die deur. Dit was voor de hond een zeer leerrijk moment toen deze het slachtoffer uiteindelijk op de juiste locatie terugvond.