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When: TBD - 2023
Where: Forensic Investigation Research Station, Colorado Mesa University, 950 Coffman Road, Whitewater, CO
Who: Law enforcement dog handlers and dogs, search and rescue dog handlers and dogs
Cost: $395


In response to requests from canine handler organizations, in 2017 the FIRS launched a two-day workshop for canine-handler teams. The workshop is composed of both classroom (lecture) and practical (field exercises) meant to introduce the handler and canine to decompositional changes in an arid environment. Included in the cost are snacks, beverages, lunches, a hardcopy of course materials, t-shirt, and FIRS patch.  Lectures include: an introduction to FIRS and current research, the trajectory of decomposition in an arid environment, human and non-human bone identification, and introductions to current Sensor Dog standards put out by the National Institute of Justice's Organization of Scientific Areas Committee on Sensor Dogs and an introduction to expert witness testimony. Group sizes for practical exercises do not exceed five canine-handler teams. Practical exercises vary, but include an imprinting station with incremental increase in exposure to active human decomposition (your canine must successfully complete this before progressing to more difficult exercises), an outdoor field search for a surface body, and a search for a body inside a house, starting outside where the canine determines which structure the remains are in and then moving inside.

How to enroll: Due to the sensitive nature of the research conducted at FIRS, and out of respect for our Donors, we only accept canine-handler teams able to demonstrate advanced training and certification. An on-line application process will require (1) Canine-handler CV; (2) proof of completion of national certification within the last year, (3) a digital photograph of the certified canine participating in course. The application form can be found here. Please submit supporting information in a single email to Alex Smith ([email protected]). Questions may be submitted to the same address - please allow 48 hours for a response.