Dogs' keen sense of smell is more important to humans than ever before, said Jeff Schettler of the Georgia K9 National Training Center in Canton. Schettler, a retired police K-9 handler, trains military and police dogs to sniff out humans, cadavers, drugs and explosives.
"Every day in Afghanistan or Iraq a dog detects an improvised explosives device in a place people are doing business. How many hundreds or thousands of people did he save?" asked Schettler.
To better understand the power of a dog's nose, CBS Atlanta News partnered with Schettler and his team to demonstrate how a trained trailing bloodhound named Dare can track a person down.
A trainer, acting as a "fugitive," hid deep into 4,000 acres of woods in rural Cherokee County. He intentionally dropped a rag that serves as a scent article necessary for any dog to begin a hunt. According to Schettler, the scent article can be almost any item that contains the subject's odor.
Handler Joseph Citta instructed Dare to sniff the rag. Instantly, Dare found the invisible scent trail and dragged Citta down the hill.
Schettler explained that dogs have a unique ability to isolate each person's unique odor that he or she leaves behind.
A forest is ideal for trailing because each step Dare takes through leaves and vegetation stirs up remnants of the person's odor; confirming for Dare that she's on the right track.
Citta explained that handling is mentally and physically draining.
"There's no way you can just run behind the dog. If the dog is distracted, you have to be watching the dog the whole time no matter what obstacles are in front of you," said Citta.
Ten minutes after beginning her hunt, Dare achieved what is humanly impossible and found the "fugitive" a half-mile into the woods. Citta rewarded her with a treat and praise.
GPS tracking devices show Dare followed the subject's track almost perfectly.
"Imagine trying to visually track that [without a dog]. Footstep to footstep, broken branch to broken branch. Overturned leaf to overturned leaf. It would be hours if not days" said Schettler.
Schettler said he believes any dog has the ability to follow scent. Whether they do it successfully depends on their drive.
To test that theory, reporter Jeff Chirico volunteered his 7-year-old mutt, Dallas. Once Chirico was hidden a hundred yards away, Dallas began running in his direction. But Dallas quickly became sidetracked by coyote waste and had a difficult time finding Chirico's trail afterwards.
Schettler said dogs he trains for trailing are specially-bred and have an innate desire to hunt. It takes four to six months of training before a dog is ready for work.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:58 PM EDT2013-06-18 16:58:02 GMT
Shooting in Home Depot parking lot
One man is dead after an online deal went bad in the parking lot of an Arizona Home Depot, police said. The man approached a vehicle around 3 p.m. occupied by two men who were selling items they had postedMore >
The victim approached a vehicle around 3 p.m. occupied by two men who were selling items they had posted online, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 10:19 PM EDT2013-06-19 02:19:23 GMT
Arizona State University says it is no longer recognizing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon as a fraternity chapter on its campus. The move comes in the wake of a series of well-publicized incidents where one member,More >
Arizona State University says it is no longer recognizing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon as a fraternity chapter on its campus.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 9:23 AM EDT2013-06-18 13:23:30 GMT
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her. Jayden Sink raised nearly $200 on Friday while she sold lemonadeMore >
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 12:55 PM EDT2013-06-18 16:55:16 GMT
Tempe police need help identifying the woman in the sketch. (Source: Tempe Police)
Authorities in Tempe say the battered, nude body of a woman was discovered in a Tempe neighborhood street early Saturday morning.Tempe Police spokesman Sgt. Mike Pooley said the body was discovered nearMore >
Tempe police said the battered, nude body of a woman was discovered on a neighborhood street early Saturday morning.More >
Monday, June 17 2013 9:21 PM EDT2013-06-18 01:21:07 GMT
An Arizona prison inmate is dead from an apparent homicide, state Department of Corrections officials said. John Jones, 63, died Monday at the Lewis complex in Buckeye. DOC officials stopped short ofMore >
John Jones, 63, died Monday at the Lewis complex in Buckeye.More >