‘FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said the reaction from the dogs Monday night indicated a “strong possibility” the girls had been at the lake, less than a mile from their grandmother’s house where they were last reported seen Friday. However, Breault said because there were no reported sightings, authorities couldn’t be certain…
…Abben said that local, state and federal officials have been “grasping for straws” in the search. A tip line turned up numerous reports of articles of clothing that had been found, but none belonged to the girls. He said it was as if they had just disappeared.’
This is a continuation of a pattern I have observed for years – bringing scent dogs to the case when the trail has run cold.
Tragically, there is no doubt that this kind of (mis)use of police dogs has resulted in loss or evidence and failure of investigation in many unsolved cases.
Dogs need fresh scent to work with. The usability of scent on a trail degrades rapidly in the first 24 hours. What’s more, a dog can do little after the crime scene has been stomped on by dozens of law enforcement agents.
It has been long argued by experts that the way to use scent dogs correctly is to bring them in in the first hours of the investigation, while the scent is still fresh. Dogs are not a magic button to press when nothing else gives results.
As it stands, until investigation methods change the victims of crime will suffer from this misuse.