Can Dogs Sniff Out Stolen Treasure?
Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT | March 08, 2018
There seems to be no end to the things scent-detection dogs can be trained to find. A dog’s nose is a powerful tool for discovery for everything from
Areas in the Middle East and North Africa are undergoing widespread looting of important archeological sites. War and political unrest have made many countries vulnerable to the loss of cultural property. According to the organization
Syria and Iraq are losing part of their cultural heritage, and the illegal profits are funding organized crime and terrorists. According to the
So far, efforts to curb the flow of these stolen treasures have met with limited success. It’s difficult for customs officers to find artifacts that are hidden in crates and packages. Not to mention the added complication of falsified import forms. To turn the tide, Red Arch Research has developed the
Red Arch Research has partnered with the
The first phase of the project will involve four dogs from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center’s training program that were chosen for their physical and mental abilities. This is precise work that demands a patient personality. The training techniques will be like those used for bomb or drug detection. First the odor of the pottery will be captured by wiping it with absorbent material. Then the dogs will be given several samples of material to sniff. When they smell a sample with the pottery odor, they will be given a treat. When they smell a sample that doesn’t have the odor, they will not get a treat.
Once the dogs have been imprinted on the pottery odor, their odor discrimination skills will be tested. If these tests prove the dogs can detect the odor of the artifacts, then Red Arch Research hopes to raise enough funds to move to the second phase of the project, testing outside of the laboratory. If the dogs can succeed out in the world, then the final phase of the project would involve creating a demonstration program for customs officers. These specially trained dogs might become the newest tool officers have to prevent the smuggling of archeological treasure and to recover and protect humanity’s cultural heritage.
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