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Individual human scent as a forensic identifier using mantrailing

Woidtke, Leif, Dreßler, Jan, Babian, Carsten
Forensic science international 2018 v.282 pp. 111-121
DNA, blood, dogs, forensic sciences, human resources, humans, law enforcement, odors, police, saliva, sweat, Germany
Specially trained dogs have long been used by law enforcement agencies to help in criminal investigations and in searching for missing persons. Still, it is unclear which components of human scent released into the environment contribute to successful searches of individuals. In this study, saliva and axillary sweat samples were taken from a total of 190 people. Additionally, DNA was extracted from whole blood of seven different people and used as an odour sample as well. Overall 675 tests (trails) were performed during a period of 18 months. The ability to track individuals with the odour samples mentioned above was examined with seven dogs, four of which were specially-trained dogs (mantrailer) from the Saxony Police. Results indicated that specially-trained police dogs can track a person with an average success rate of 82% and correctly identify the absence of an odour track with an average success rate of 97% under various conditions. Private rescue dogs were less successful with an average success rate of 65% and 75% respectively. These data suggest that the potential error rate of a well-trained handler team is low and can be a useful tool for law enforcement personnel. Saliva, as a reference odour source, was found to be particularly suitable for the search. The results of the study suggest that the components contained in axillary sweat, saliva and DNA extracted from whole blood are sufficient, serving as a key stimulus for individualized searches.