New research out of the University of Alberta – Canada, finds that dogs can detect gasoline in quantities as small as one billionth of a teaspoon.
Canines have been used in arson investigations for about 30 years, beginning when the US ATF partnered up with the Connecticut State Police in 1986 to train an accelerant detecting canine (ADC) named Mattie.
Mattie was a Labrador Retriever, working for the Connecticut State Police, and she was trained to alert to 17 different ignitable liquids. We all know that Mattie and her kind have an incredible sense of smell, but just how sensitive, is amazing.
Dogs typically have about 200 million receptor cells in their noses that help them identify scents and odors, compared to about 5 million cells in a human nose. Further increasing their sense of smell is an organ located in the roof of their mouths that allows them to basically “taste” a smell.
Just like a human, a dog can smell an odor that comes directly from an item, and like us, they can smell an odor left on a surface after the source of the odor has been removed, the difference is that a dog’s sense of smell eclipses ours, and it even beats electronic equipment designed for hydrocarbon detection.
In fact, man made odor detecting devices detect hydrocarbon components in the neighborhood of parts per million, where dogs an detect amounts as small as .01 micro liters. And if that wasn’t enough to favor the dog, a dog pinpoints the area of the source odor, where a man made instrument cannot.
Lastly, a dog can actually differentiate between true accelerants and similar gases that an instrument cannot do.
K9’s are often used in arson investigation, allowing investigators to locate items and debri that presumptively contains accelerants. These areas shown as “hits” by the dog will be collected, and sent to a lab for scientific analysis.
Click the link below for more info on accelerant detecting K9’s.