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Cadaver Dog Training

Cadaver Dog Training


Full Cadaver: Beginner and Refresher Course
April 23, 24 and 25, 2021

This class has reached full capacity. Please watch for a new course announcement for May coming within the next few days.

We’re BACK to it!

Due to Covid 19 and associated restrictions, offering face-to-face courses has been limited at the university; however, we are happy to announce that our Human Remains Detection K9 Program is back at it!

Thanks to the many cadaver donors who have given their remains in the name of science to Western Carolina University, the craft of training human remains detection dogs is possible.

This course is designed to imprint beginner K9s, and serve as a reinforcement of foundations for the more advanced K9s, on full body human remains, buried full body remains, bone fragment, as well as lower threshold source.

The training will begin with classwork on the basics of the K9 olfactory system and scent detection work, and the reinforcement of how to limit handler error and intentional and unintentional cuing.  A focus of our training is to develop the working K9 to be able to detect, and give a final response at source independently and confidentially on its own.  After the 101 crash course of the HRD K9 and handler duty, K9s will be grouped by level of experience and begin the training by imprinting K9s on low threshold human remains and advance to large source (full body), buried remains (full and partial body), as well as scattered human bone fragment.  This will be a challenging task to accomplish in just 2.5 days, and we will all be mindful to keep these tasks positive and productive.

One K9 per one handler, lunch will be provided on Friday and Saturday.  The course is limited to the first 18 K9 teams to register, and a couple of spots are available for observers (by special arrangement) at $200.00. Email to inquire about observer spots.

Be sure to add your email to our contact list to receive information about upcoming workshops.

Lead Instructor Include:

Edwin Grant (Active K9 handler/trainer, Retired Game Warden, NCMEC TAC, SBI HRD Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Reunification Team, Necrosearch, Kenyon International member, etc),

Ken Mathias (Retired Director of SBI K9 program, Raleigh Police Department K9 program, and United States Police Canine Association National Chief Judge. USPCA Cadaver Dog National Champion.

Dr. Lisa Briggs (Active Criminologist, Director Emergency and Disaster Management Program, Director WCU HRD K9 Program, NCMEC TAC, SBI HRD Task Force, Department of Homeland Security Reunification Team, etc),

Other qualified instructors will be added as needed:  See Instructor Bios.

*While we will follow federal, state and university safety practices, participants are reminded that if 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained between individuals, participants and staff will be required to wear a facemask. 

“Do not expect a HRD K9 to recover that which it has not been imprinted on, nor expect it to give a reliable and accurate final response if it has not been well trained on the many VOCs of actual human decomposition.”   -- Dr. Lisa Briggs

Our Cadaver Dog Training Workshops are held on the campus in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The workshops are offered in cooperation with the Forensic Osteology Research Station and the Emergency and Disaster Management Program at WCU.

These land-based workshops allow participants to work search areas including grassy fields, mountainous terrain, urban environments, buildings, and vehicles. Participants will have the opportunity to work a wide range of source materials; including the ability to expose their dogs to full body decomposition in the Forensic Osteology Research Station (FOREST).

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