Volume 41, Issue 5 (September 1996)
Effect of Background Interference on Accelerant Detection by Canines
Additional studies were performed with respect to examining the lower limits at which canines can reliably detect products commonly used as accelerants and distinguish them from pyrolysis products or background hydrocarbons. As part of a testing exercise performed in conjunction with a national conference of the Canine Accelerant Detection Association (CADA), 34 canines were subjected to a series of tests, some of them were a recertification proficiency. In one of the tests, the dogs were nearly unanimously successful in locating one can (out of five) containing 50% evaporated gasoline at the 5 μL level on a burnt carpet matrix, and pinpointing the 6-in. square sector on a piece of plain carpeting where the same amount of gasoline (5 μL) was applied. However, only half were able to detect a second doped sample containing a lesser amount (0.05, 0.1, or 0.2 μL) of gasoline, and registered a number of alerts on samples containing only burnt carpeting material. The dogs were also tested on measured amounts (2 or 5 μL) of a variety of other light, medium, and heavy petroleum products applied to a variety of substances containing significant pyrolysis products. As a group, the canines were much less successful in pinpointing these products than they were with gasoline at this same level, and again registered a number of alerts on cans containing only pyrolysis products. The significant number of alerts by canines on samples not containing gasoline or other products points out the importance of obtaining laboratory confirmation on samples on which dogs alert, and on keeping accurate field and training records of the canines to establish their credibility.