Is Pork a Suitable Substitute for Human Flesh
in Cadaver Dog Training?
Grace Catling, Dr Kirsty Squires , Dr Claire Gwinnett
Department of Forensic and Crime Science, Staffordshire University.
Dogs make the ideal police companion because of their natural desire to hunt and track prey (DeGreeff et
al, 2012). The canine olfactory system is also highly sensitive and selective; the limitations of which remain
unknown (Riezzo et al, 2014; Vass et al, 1997). The exact compound, or combination of chemicals,
involved in the dogs’ identification process is yet to be determined; which is why scent dog evidence is so
heavily criticised (Riezzo et al, 2014, Vass et al, 1997).
Figure 1. Photograph of Ronnie,
a cadaver dog belonging to
a private dog handler from Lancaster.
In the United Kingdom, the only form of guidelines offered to police dog handlers and private trainers, is
The Police Dogs Manual of Guidance (Ingram, 2011). There is currently no standardised training of victim
recovery (VR) dogs, which has resulted in training varying from police force to police force. It is important
that national training and assessments are established, so that all units have adequately and consistently
trained dogs (Greatbach et al, 2015; Riezzo et al, 2014).
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (Ingram, 2011) states that pigs (Sus Scrofa) should be used
as a substitute for human flesh, because of their similar body fat ratios, hair coverage and size (Pringle et
al, 2010; Rosier et al, 2015). The Police Dogs Manual of Guidance makes reference mainly to pork flesh
however, a pig’s ear, pig’s head, breast of lamb or something similar, are also suggested. The manual lacks
descriptive methods or equipment for trainers to use, meaning that the instructions are very open to
The Human Tissue Act 2004, restricts the use, removal and storage of human tissue in the UK, which dog
handlers must also abide by (Irish, 2015; Pringle et al, 2010). Blood and teeth used for training purposes
are obtained through consensual means, usually from the trainers themselves, or extracted teeth can be
collected from licensed dentists. Such laws and restrictions do not apply in the USA; there is no legislation
that controls the possession or selling of human bone, with exception to the 1990 Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act which safeguards Native American burial sites (Marsh, 2012; National
Park Service, 2016). It is only in New York, Georgia and Tennessee, where state law regulates the import
and export of human remains (Marsh, 2012; The Bone Room, 2015).