Warsaw Fire dog Bailey assists ATF with Indy fire investigation

After Thursday's huge fire at the Cosmopolitan in Indianapolis, a team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headed to the city to help investigate.

And so did Bailey, a 7-year-old black Labrador partnered with Warsaw Fire Department's Michael Wilson.

Bailey and Wilson, a fire marshal who has been working with the dog since 2003, are also part of the ATF National Response Team for on-site investigations.

Bailey is assigned to the state of Indiana, and is one of just 77 dogs around the nation trained to work in arson detection, according to information provided by the Warsaw Fire Department.

Bailey's job is to detect any accelerants, the ignitable liquids present in arson cases. And while no arson has been determined in the Indianapolis case, the ATF arrived in Indianapolis on Friday to find out what started the blaze, the agency said in a press release.

Christopher Sadowski, a Columbus, Ohio, ATF special agent in charge, said early damage estimates exceed $20 million after the structure at Michigan Street and North Senate Avenue was totally destroyed.

Now authorities turn to finding out why — and that's where Bailey's special skills come in. Dogs have about 220 million receptors in their noses to detect scent, more than four times that of humans.

And according to the fire department, an ATF-trained dog like Bailey can sense just three drops of fuel that may be buried under fire debris four feet deep.

On average, Bailey works 60 fire scenes per year in Kosciusko County and around Indiana. And Bailey had a chance to show off Sunday during a demonstration in Indianapolis, one that was covered by local television stations WISH and WRTV. ATF agents were on hand to describe canine detection techniques.

According to the ATF, dogs are trained after a five-week course for handlers at the agency's training center in Virginia. A 10-week course also is offered for dogs to train in explosives detection.

The ATF program Web site says there are about 50 teams like Wilson and Bailey's around the country.

In addition to large fire scenes, teams have been used at the Pentagon after the Sept. 11 attacks, at the Olympic Games, and for other special events including presidential inaugurations and political conventions.

Dogs can save our lives by alerting us to heart attacks and seizures. Zeus did.

by: Sharon Sakson

The phone rang with an urgent request from Carrie Hartman, proudcer of the radio program Pet Hour on Sirius Radio. A guest on the show, Penny Centrella of Massachusetts, claimed her dog had saved her life by warning her she was going to have a heart attack, then forcing her to stay awake until help came. She said the emergency room doctor told her that if she had fallen asleep, she would have died.

Hosts Nancy Glass and Cindy Connors knew about my book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs. They wanted to know if Penny’s story was believable and if there was any scienbtific evidence that could back up what she said.

The answer, in short, is YES.

As I researched The Healing Power of Dgos, I came across many claims like Penny’s. The amazing thing was that whenever scientists had stepped in with a study, their findings backed up the owners claims.

Dogs can alert their owners to health crises, particularly things like heart attacks and epiclieptic seizures. For a long time, no one knew how they did it. The guesses were that it might be an electromagnetic disturbance in the owner’s brainwaves. But an experiement at Louisiana State University’s Epiliecptic Monituring Unit showed that two dogs alerted to their owners to oncoming seizures when the computer screens showed NO changes in brainwaves.

The next guess is smell. This turns out to be the magic skill. Scientists are guessing that when a heart attack or seizure is on the way, chemicals are released into the bloodstream that alters the human’s smell. We know that these dogs react strongly, pawing, jumping and barking at their owners, when they detect something is wrong. We don’t know what it is they smell because Dr. James Walker at the Sensory Institute in Florida proved that a dog’s sense of scent is, at a minimum, 10,000 times greater than a human’s. Humans can pick up scent at one part per hundred. Dogs were able to pick up scent at one part per billion. That’s one drop of scent in an Olympic size swimming pool.

Penny Centrella says her Pointer-Lab cross, Zeus, started to paw her frantically on a hot July day two years ago. He nudged her with his nose. He nipped at her clothes. Then, Penny collapsed on the floor with a heart attack. Zeus barked and jumped on her, refusing to let her go to sleep. She was able to call 911 only because Zeus revived her.

Penny says, "My theory with dogs is that you get what you give. Love and take care of them, and they'll do the same for you in return."
The phone rang with an urgent request from Carrie Hartman, producer of the radio program Pet Hour on Sirius Radio. A guest on the show, Penny Centrella of Massachusetts, claimed her dog had saved her life by warning her she was going to have a heart attack, then forcing her to stay awake until help came. She said the emergency room doctor told her that if she had fallen asleep, she would have died.

Hosts Nancy Glass and Cindy Connors knew about my book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs. They wanted to know if Penny’s story was believable and if there was any scientific evidence that could back up what she said.

The answer, in short, is YES.

As I researched The Healing Power of Dogs, I came across many claims like Penny’s. The amazing thing was that whenever scientists had stepped in with a study, their findings backed up the owners claims.

Dogs can alert their owners to health crises, particularly things like heart attacks and epileptic seizures. For a long time, no one knew how they did it. The guesses were that it might be an electromagnetic disturbance in the owner’s brainwaves. But an experiment at Louisiana State University’s Epileptic Monitoring Unit showed that two dogs alerted their owners to oncoming seizures when the computer screens showed NO electromagnetic changes in brainwaves.

The next guess is smell. This turns out to be the magic skill. When a heart attack or seizure is on the way, chemicals are released into the bloodstream that alters the human’s smell. We know that these dogs react strongly, pawing, jumping and barking at their owners when they detect something is wrong. We don’t know what it is they smell because Dr. James Walker at the Sensory Institute in Florida proved that a dog’s sense of scent is, at a minimum, 10,000 times greater than a human’s. Humans can pick up scent at one part per hundred. Dogs were able to pick up scent at one part per billion. That’s one drop of scent in an Olympic size swimming pool.

Penny Centrella says her Pointer-Lab cross, Zeus, started to paw her frantically on a hot July day two years ago. He nudged her with his nose. He nipped at her clothes. Then, Penny collapsed on the floor with a heart attack. It turned out her left artery was 90% blocked. Zeus barked and jumped on her, refusing to let her go to sleep. She was able to call 911 only because Zeus revived her.

Penny says, "My theory with dogs is that you get what you give. Love and take care of them, and they'll do the same for you in return."

Penny said, "He's attached to me at the hip. He watches me constantly. I have to leave the bathroom door open or he gets very upset and barks till I open it. He doesn't want me out of his sight."

2.3 million Americans suffer from seizures. Millions more have heart attacks. Our dogs are a potentially lifesaving resource, right here at our sides, already paid for, willing to work for food and love. We need more scientific studies to back up their abilities. We need more trainers who can show us how to communicate with our dogs. And we need to be more aware that their instinctive animal nature is something we need in our lives. They are ready to serve. Are we ready to listen?

Body odor: New proof of ID?

Shaun Waterman UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL

The Department of Homeland Security plans to study the possibility that human body odor might be used to determine when people are lying, or to identify individuals in the same way that fingerprints can.

In a federal procurement document posted Friday on the Web, the department´s Science and Technology Directorate says it will conduct an "outsourced, proof-of-principle study to determine if human odor signatures can serve as an indicator of deception. ... As a secondary goal, this study will examine ... human odor samples for evidence to support the theory that an individual can be identified by that individual´s odor signature."

Officials said the work was at a very early stage, but the announcement brought criticism. Barry Steinhardt, of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty project, said the plan showed that the department had "misplaced priorities."

"The history of DHS´ deployment of these technologies has been one colossal failure after another. There is no lie detector. This research has been a long, meandering journey which has taken us down one blind alley after another."

Mr. Steinhardt said that even well-established biometric identity technologies such as fingerprinting had resulted in inaccurate identifications of people, including Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield, who received an apology from the FBI after being wrongfully accused of having had a hand in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

"None of the biometrics for identity have worked very well, with the possible exception of DNA," he said, adding that even fingerprint evidence was "increasingly being challenged in courts around the country."

The procurement notice says the department is already "conducting experiments in deceptive behavior and collecting human odor samples." The research it hopes to fund "will consist primarily of the analysis and study of the human odor samples collected to determine if a deception indicator can be found."

"This research has the potential for enhancing our ability to detect individuals with harmful intent," the notice says. "A positive result from this proof-of-principle study would provide evidence that human odor is a useful indicator for certain human behaviors and, in addition, that it may be used as a biometric identifier."

Amy Kudwa, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said "proof-of-concept" work was the earliest stage of technological development.

The directorate "is trying to determine what factors of human behavior and chemistry can provide clues to the intent to deceive," she said. The work would be carried out by the Federally Funded Research and Development Center run by the nonprofit Mitre Corp., which conducts cutting-edge research for the U.S. military, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, Ms. Kudwa said.

Scientific research shows that so-called volatile organic compounds present in human sweat, saliva and urine can be analyzed using a technique known as gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry.

Research published by the Royal Society in London in 2006 found "a substantial number of marker compounds [in human sweat] that can potentially differentiate individuals or groups."

Researchers took five samples each from 179 people over a 10-week period and analyzed them, finding hundreds of chemical markers that remained more or less constant for each person over time. An analysis of these compounds "found strong evidence for individual [odor] fingerprints" the researchers concluded.

They warned, however, that some people appear to have less distinctive odors than others.

"The reason for the variation in distinctiveness is unclear," the researchers said. More importantly, the odors of some people changed during the course of the study. "Not all subjects had consistent marker compounds over time, which might be due to physiological, dietary, or other changes," they concluded.

The researchers also cautioned that some of these marker compounds might be "exogenous chemical contaminants," from skin care or perfume products, or tobacco smoke and other substances present in a person's environment. About a quarter of the 44 apparently distinctive marker compounds they were able to analyze appeared to be artificial contaminants, the researchers said.

"Determining the origins of individual and sex-specific odors - and controlling exogenous chemical contaminants - may provide the most important challenge for future ... studies," the researchers said.

Analysts said those challenges are likely to be significant, and they will multiply if the techniques are deployed in the field.

"While some of these sensors perform well in the lab, the real world may be different," said technology consultant and author John Vacca. "The technology is still in its infancy."

Scent Secrets Unlocked, Artificial Noses Ahead?

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
February 26, 2009

Scientists are decoding the way our noses recognize scents, laying the groundwork for a future of cancer-sniffing artificial noses and personalized perfumes.

In a recent experiment, researchers tested hundreds of receptor gene types found in human and mouse noses.

By inundating the receptors with odors, researchers were able to figure out which receptors respond to which odor molecules and translate the smells into brain signals.

Unlocking this interface would show how the brain recognizes and reacts to different smells.

"We used many different types of [odorus] chemicals, from strawberries to garlic, and these chemicals have specific structure. [We asked] what kinds of receptors are activated by each?" said study co-author Harumi Saito of Duke University.

"Only three receptor types facilitate all of color vision," said geneticist Joel Mainland of the Duke University Medical Center, whose findings will appear in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. "For human smell you have 400 [receptors], so it becomes a very complex system to decode."

Avery Gilbert, author of What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, added that "the big problem is lining up which odor molecules go with which receptors. It's as if you have a pile of locks and a pile of keys and you've got to find out which key goes to each lock."


Personalized Perfumes, Cancer-Sniffing "Noses"

Knowing how different receptors recognize odors could help produce artificial noses able to sniff out scents from cancer to bombs.

Gilbert most looks forward to a day when such work could allow us to explain why people perceive odors differently.

"There may be some people who think a smell has a certain spicy quality while others don't," he said. "Perhaps we could say it's because some have extra receptors while others don't."

That kind of information would be a boon for people who trade in smell for a living.

"You could do something like the [computer] monitor has done for vision, where you can mix red, green, and blue and make any color you want in a image," Duke's Mainland said.

"We can't do that with smell because we don't know how they mix together, but this is a first step in developing that kind of thing," he said.

Gilbert added: "Since the Renaissance, commercial perfumery has always been an empirical game. You try a formula and put it on the shelf to see if anybody buys it, but you never know.

"With this you could do a quick genetic test and predict which kinds of perfumes or wine or foods people will or will not like.

"That's a ways off, but that's where this path leads."

Sheriff's Office investigating 'car-hopping' incident

PORT CHARLOTTE — Authorities say 10 unlocked vehicles were burglarized this week in a local neighborhood.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office is investigating the series of incidents in the New York section of Port Charlotte.

According to detectives, the suspect(s) stole various electronic equipment, wallets and medication, which was tracked to other unlocked vehicles that had been burglarized in the area.

A K-9 unit tracked the scent to a canal along Conway Boulevard, where two back packs filled with stolen items were found.

Anyone with information should call the Sheriff's Office at 941-639-2101, or Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS.

6 fun facts about your dog

I'm constantly amazed by pet owners and their generosity in sharing information about their pets. From training tips to health facts, I learn the most not from what I read but from what friends tell me about their pets. As I pick up new, useful information, I'll be sure to share it with you all - and then you can pass it along to friends, and so forth. It'll be our own pet information superhighway.

For example, did you know:

1) Did you know that a one year old dog is considered to be as physically mature as a 15 year old human?

2) Did you know that obesity is the #1 health issue facing dogs today? Even parvo and other diseases have taken a backseat to the number of dogs afflicted by health issues caused by obesity.

3) Did you know that an estimate 1,000,000 dogs are the primary beneficiary in their owner's will?

4) Did you know that dogs have no sense of time? So, if I leave Angel at home to go to the grocery store, she won't know if I also add an hour in there for a workout. All she knows is that I'm gone - but it is very comforting to me to know that if I'm taking more time at my errands than planned, she's not looking at the clock (or at least, she's not reading it!).

5) Did you know that your dog can identify smells 1,000-10,000 times better than a human? Humans have 5 million scent receptors, whereas dogs have so many more - a beagle, for example, has 225 million scent receptors!

6) Did you know that if you plan to travel to Hawaii, your dog will need to be quarantined? State of Hawaii law says that pets (dog, cats, and otherwise) are required to completete a 120 day confinement in the State Animal Quarantine State; however, if specific pre-arrival requirements are met (rabies vaccine, blood tests, microchip, completed paperwork, etc), the quarantine period may be cut down to 5 days or less. For more information on this, check out Hawaii's Agricultural website at http://www.hawaiiag.org/AQS/aqs-checklist-5.pdf.

Suspect caught in Pearland Carjacking attempt led to gunshots, school closing

PEARLAND — A carjacking suspect accused of firing at the car owner and at Pearland police early Monday remains in custody this morning as authorities prepare to file charges.

The man, whose name has not been released, could be charged with aggravated assault on a public servant or attempted capital murder.

Detectives are still questioning him about other criminal cases with which they believe he may be connected, officials said today.

"They're just trying to follow up the leads," said Lt. Onesimo Lopez, a Pearland police spokesman.

After a daylong manhunt that included closing a nearby school and locking down two others, the suspect was found shortly before 10 p.m. Monday by a bloodhound, hiding in a shed in the 5400 block of Spring Branch in the Springfield subdivision, Lopez said.

Police said they found a shotgun inside a rifle case that had been left in the backyard of another home in that subdivision where the man had been seen earlier.

The search began early Monday after the man tried to steal the 2009 Dodge Challenger of a resident in the 3500 block of Lindhaven in the Audubon Place subdivision, police said.

The car's owner struggled with the man, who fired a shot as he ran away, officers said. Police chased the man on foot, but he fired at them and evaded capture.

No one was hit by either shot.

At one point, officials called off the search after tracking dogs lost the gunman's scent Monday afternoon. But police set up a search perimeter again and secured the Springfield subdivision after a patrol officer saw the man about 5:15 p.m., Lopez said.

Schools were scheduled to follow their normal routine today, said Glenn Garrison, president of the Pearland school district’s board.

Police cordoned off the area and alerted Pearland school officials. The district sent an advisory to parents of Magnolia Elementary School, which is adjacent to Audubon Place, to keep the students at home or take them to the Pearland Junior High West campus.

Gates were broken

Audubon Place is a small, upper-scale gated neighborhood. On Monday morning, the gates were broken and left open, said a repairman who worked to fix them Monday afternoon.

Police scoured the surrounding subdivisions, setting up a perimeter around the southeast Pearland neighborhoods. Officers went house to house to talk to residents, check backyards and look in sheds and other potential hiding places.

Pearland K-9 dogs and bloodhounds from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tracked the gunman south from the original scene. About noon the dogs were no longer able to follow the scent, Lopez said.

Pearland police and Brazoria County sheriff’s deputies were joined by deputies from Fort Bend County, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and by police officers from nearby Friendswood in searching the area around Magnolia Elementary.

The junior high campus and Dawson High School were under a shelter-in-place order, which meant no one could enter or leave until authorities determined the danger is over. After-school activities were canceled at both Dawson and Pearland high schools.

Philip Deans, who lives just west of the shooting scene, said he heard one of the shots. He said such a thing is rare for Pearland, "but with all the growth, it may be something we’re going to have to live with."

Chronicle reporter Anita Hassan also contributed to this report.

richard.stewart@chron.com

mike.glenn@chron.com

Detectives Search Dumpster in Florida Girl Haleigh Cummings' Disappearance

Detectives in Florida looking for a missing 5-year-old girl sorted through tons of trash in a dumpster near the family home after cadaver dogs picked up a scent, but turned up no new evidence.

Investigators from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office spent several hours Thursday evening going through the garbage piece by piece in their search for Haleigh Cummings, Capt. Dick Schauland said in a news release.

The dumpster search was prompted by three cadaver dogs that apparently picked up a scent at the receptacle, according to Schauland.

Haleigh vanished from her bedroom about three weeks ago.

Click here for photos.

Seven teams of canines spent the day Thursday in the area around the mobile home where Haleigh lives with her father Ronald Cummings Jr., his girlfriend Misty Croslin and her 4-year-old brother Junior.

Schauland said the endeavor wasn't the result of any new information in the case but a "routine procedure of re-checking areas that had been previously searched to be sure that nothing had been overlooked."

The dogs were continuing the effort Friday.

The news came as Haleigh's family released a home movie Thursday of the child opening Christmas presents in the hopes that it will lead to tips on where she is.

In the silent 41-second video clip, Haleigh and Junior are sitting on the floor by a Christmas tree this past Dec. 25. The little girl smiles, laughs and talks to the off-camera photographer as she plays with a hat and unwraps gifts. Her light brown hair is pulled back in a ponytail.

Click here to watch the video at MyFOXOrlando.com.

The video was released after the reward for Haleigh's return was raised to $25,500. The child vanished before dawn on Feb. 10.

Police are combing through more than a thousand possible leads, but so far have found no trace of Haleigh.

Several of those questioned have taken polygraphs, including Cummings, 24, and Croslin, 17. The couple claimed to have "passed" the lie detector tests. Police won't talk about the results.

The family has been the subject of child welfare agency investigations in the past. The nature of those cases hasn't been disclosed because of state confidentiality laws.

Haleigh's little brother told police a man dressed all in black snuck into her room and snatched the girl from her bed, according to a Florida TV news Web site. Detectives haven't addressed his story.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477).