The police working dog is used for its superb sense of smell. Over 90% of the work that the K-9 does is with its nose, not its mouth. The K9′s superb sense of smell is many times greater than the human. They can travel and clear an area much quicker than we can.
When a properly trained police work dog is utilized to search a building for a person, the K9 uses its keen sense of smell first, then its sense of hearing and lastly their eyes.
Humans rely on what we see or hear when searching for an intruder. We cannot search areas or rooms where doors are locked. K-9s do not need to open doors to determine if someone is hiding behind it. They simply smell the door seams. They do not need flashlights to look into dark areas to locate suspects.
In a study of Police Canine Search Teams done by Officer Marie Wolfe of the Lansing Police Department, police K-9 Units were compared to officer units (2-4 officers) to perform building searches for hidden “suspect(s)”. The results showed that the police K-9 units outperformed the officers in terms of time required to search buildings and in accuracy of locating the “suspects.”
The conclusion of this showed “the utilization of trained police canine teams for building situations can represent a considerable benefit for police agencies (through a reduction in officers’ time spent to search various locations), as well as a reduction in the fear of crime (through an enhanced apprehension rate of criminals).
As the building size increases, the canine teams’ time savings, accuracy and subjective reported certainty, far surpasses that of searching officers teams. When coupled with the safety factor, the utilization of canine teams is an outstanding addition to police agencies.