After recently joining the Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT), Trent University professor Dr. Jennifer Newton made a furry friend, who she invited to the Trent Durham GTA campus to train at the Anthropology House.
OVERT aids in search and rescue situations like, “abductions, missing persons, natural disasters and other community emergencies that have the potential to tax the resources of a primary response agency,” according to their website.
Through her time at the organization, Professor Newton connected with OVERT canine trainer, Dale Stevenson. Dale is the handler of Riggs, a five-year-old rescue dog who has been training in human remain detection for four years.
Riggs, who is certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association, was invited to Trent University Durham GTA’s Anthropology House to better his scent detection skills.
“It’s a great opportunity to expose Riggs to some older bones. It’s something he’s never experienced before,” said Dale.
Prof. Newton and Dr. Helen Haines, Trent Durham Anthropology professor, were on-site at the Anthropology House to help hide older bones around the house for Riggs to find. The bones, from 500 to 1000 AD, were safely hidden in places where Riggs could smell, but not touch them.
Prof. Newton said, “I've been fascinated with Riggs since first meeting him. I can certainly see the benefits of having these types of opportunities available for dogs, such as Riggs, to continually train. Thanks to Dr. Helen Haines, I've been able to offer OVERT and Riggs this experience to train using archaeological remains.”
Throughout the scent hunt, Riggs was unfamiliar with bones as old as these ones, so he has been invited back to the Anthropology House to continue his training.