Semen sniffer dogs can detect a pinprick of seminal fluid which is years old

Semen sniffer dogs can detect a pinprick of seminal fluid sometimes years after it has been deposited
Semen sniffer dogs can detect a pinprick of seminal fluid sometimes years after it has been deposited. Image: MikeB under license.
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This is the remarkable story of a very special kind of dog; sniffer dogs to help catch sex offenders. Their remarkable sense of smell is quite extraordinary. PC Steve Gunn when speaking of his dog April said:

“She’s amazing. She will find even a pinprick of seminal fluid – less than 0.1 mL – sometimes years after it has been deposited. When we went to those woods, it was a fairly big area. But she found it in no time: key evidence.”

He was referring to April’s detection of semen in a large area of woodland which had been deposited by a now convicted criminal. He had sexually abused a 10-year-old child. The child had the courage to tell the police where her abuse had happened but without April it would have been impossible to find what was critical evidence in a large area of woodland.

The evidence, as mentioned, proved conclusive. April is a yellow Labrador trained to sniff out and detect one substance only. It took 90 seconds to detect the seminal fluid of that criminal. Extraordinary.

April is one of only three “seminal police dogs” in the UK. She is a member of the Cheshire and North Wales Police Alliance Dog Unit. It’s based at Cheshire police headquarters in Winsford.

Over the past three years the unit has been strengthened to tackle specific crimes. Their handlers regard their dogs as partners.

Other specialist dogs within this unit are:

PD (police dog) Watson, a “digidog”. Watson detects digital storage devices. It might be a mobile phone used by a drug dealer or a paedophile concealing their pictures on a hard drive. It might be something as small as a Sim card. Watson can detect the difference between a Sim card and television electronics.

PD Bran is a victim recovery dog trained to find traces of body parts and blood or perhaps a fragment of bone. His hander is PC Richard Land. He was tasked with finding a tooth wedged into a crack in a wall and a fragment of bone. Bran found the bone within seconds. The tooth proved more difficult to find. The wind gets in the way. Land said:

“The sensitivity of a dog’s nose, what they can actually find, is unbelievable.”

The sensitivity of a dog’s nose

I’d like to add a few pointers about the sensitivity of a dog’s nose. Their sense of smell is legendary because of its incredible sensitivity which far exceeds that of humans.

Comparison: in their noses, dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors. Humans have 6 million. A dog’s nose is 100,000 times more sensitive than the nose of a human.

Analogy: Another way of making the point about their nose’s senstivity is that a dog is able to detect half a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Structure: dogs have a fold of tissue inside their nostrils which separates their smelling abilities from their breathing. This special nasal anatomy allows them to inhale odour molecules continuously without interrupting the process of exhaling air.

Brainpower/intelligence. That part of the brain which deals with interpreting smells, is 40 times larger in dogs than in humans.

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