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Cadaver Dog Training

Water Recovery of Human Remains K9 Training (Level 1)

This class, originally planned for August 12, has been delayed due to a scheduling conflict. New Fall 2022 classes will be posted here soon. Please check back.

Description: Water recovery of human remains is an important and complicated aspect of locating missing persons: Some of the facts include:

  • Seventy percent of earth is covered by water, probability of victims in water is high.
  • Water currents and conditions compound searches (visual, and olfactory).
  • Water adds increased variability to human decomposition.
  • Technology and Equipment is often limited in underwater recovery.
  • Few HRD K9 courses exist that facilitate training and enhance probability of successful HRD K9 searches from boats and shorelines.

There are many reasons victim recovery in water is warranted:

Drowning Accidents: (Swimming, Boating, etc.); Homicide: (Evidence Disposal or Intended Drowning); Natural Disaster Drowning: (Flooding, Hurricane, Tsunami); Suicide; Autism: (People- especially children with Autism have a high attraction to water); Dementia: (Wandering Due to Confusion); Psychological Disorders/Drug Use/Slips from water falls/water ways.

While we will have variety of boats allocated to course instruction, student capacity will be limited to a small number of HRD K9 handlers due to the duration it takes with each dog/handler in water craft situations.   In addition, while most training will occur at various beautiful lakes in Jackson County North Carolina, the last day of training will be at the Forensic Osteology Research Station at Western Carolina University where K9s will be imprinted on large source (full and partial cadavers at various levels of decomposition).

The cost of the course will be $450 per K9, and includes lunch at lake(s) on Friday and Saturday, as well as a WCU Water Recovery K9 Training T-shirt.

Our courses typically fill very quickly, but we will have a “wait list” and should there be enough interest, we will host another course.


“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

For area lodging options visit: Be sure to ask for a "WCU" rate if the hotels offers it.

Lead Instructors 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.

Dr. Lisa Briggs  - Active K9 handler/trainer, 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.

NOTE: All participants will be required to follow federal, state and university COVID practices that exist at the time of the training. Currently, facemasks are no longer required inside all university buildings.

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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