VVC Bloodhound Club
In this club, we are dedicated to establish the scientific literature behind the ability of the Bloodhounds to trail human scent.
Bloodhounds are used widely by law enforcement to trail criminals, prove a suspect's guilt, or to trail abducted children. Another use for bloodhounds is to locate remnants of human bodies in case of earthquakes or other disasters.
Currently, the club is managed by Dr. Lisa Harvey,Ph.D. and professor of physiology at the Biology department of V.V.C. The club consists of a group of enrolled students who are trying to gain experience in the field of scientific research.
Currently, the bloodhound club is conducting human scent studies and we welcome anybody who wants to take part by volunteering his or her time. If you feel that you can be of help to us, please contact us.
"It was not until about the 16th century that the Bloodhound was used to track man. They were only large game hunters before then: deer, etc. The [bloodhound's] testimony was so highly regarded that they had the legal right to follow a trail anywhere, including into homes."(1) Our modern day law enforcement community did not start using bloodhounds until the 1960s, when the National Police Bloodhound Association was formed. Since then, government agencies have steadily increased their use of bloodhounds and consequently, many criminal cases rely on the testimony of the dog. Our group intends to decipher the specific components that make up human scent, so as to bolster the testimony of the bloodhound.
Dr. Lisa Harvey, today's bloodhound researcher, heads this project. The first study evaluated the accuracy of the bloodhound with respect to environmental and genetic factors-whether environmental factors such as food consumed and hygiene products used by the subject affected the scents detected by the bloodhound. The first part of the study focused on the ability of the dog to distinguish between genetically identical twins. Additionally, cohabitating versus non-cohabitating siblings and cohabitating versus non-cohabitating unrelated subjects were tested in this manner. All of the cohabitating subjects were put on a strict regiment, requiring them to eat the same foods, use the same hygiene products and live in the same house. This study was a success and is currently being prepared for publication in a peer review journal. The results of this study lead Dr. Harvey and the club to the theory that human scent may be a protein complex, which is genetically unique to individuals.
Anecdotal evidence from Bloodhound handlers of old suggest that scent was made from skin cell "boats" or rafts containing bacteria Other researchers working in congruent areas have elucidated that MHC, the Major Histocompatability Complex, is a part of the scent excreted by mice (2). These MHC proteins are located on the surface of every nucleated cell in the body. When cells deteriorate, the MHC travels through the body and is excreted in a volatile, gaseous form or in the urine. The current study underway at Victor Valley College seeks to test if MHC is, in fact, the exact protein detected by bloodhounds.
- Yamazaki, et al. PNAS online, 96 (4), 1522-1525.
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