Volume 40, Issue 4 (July 1995)
An Evaluation of 42 Accelerant Detection Canine Teams
It is estimated that over 200 accelerant detection canines (ADCs) are currently assisting in fire investigations throughout the United States. On many occasions, their ability and reliability have been called into question. The Pinellas County Forensic Laboratory evaluated 42 accelerant detection canine teams in their ability to discriminate between common accelerants and pyrolysis products, to detect common accelerants at low concentrations, to precisely locate accelerants and, to detect different classes of accelerants. Ultimately, the accuracy, dependability and overall effectiveness varied from canine to canine and handler to handler and appeared to be somewhat limited by the canine's training, handling and maintenance. While most of the canine teams performed extremely well and could be an asset to fire investigation, some proved to be unreliable. A universal endorsement or condemnation of all accelerant detection canines could not be made; however, endorsements of specific canine teams and trainers were possible. Every working canine team should be evaluated independently. Routine testing is imperative to establish the canine abilities and limitations.