Piper alerts in a home destroyed in the Camp Fire

Recovering Ashes from Ashes

By GAYLE KECK | FALL 2019

Several raging wildfires have recently struck California, destroying the homes and possessions of hundreds of people. As terrible as these losses are, for some people the greatest tragedy is losing the previously-cremated remains of loved ones, which mingle with the ashes from the fire and are seemingly impossible to recover. But a group of archaeologists, assisted by specially trained dogs, are recovering them.

Photo by Mason Trinca for

The Washington Post

Dogs help wildfire survivors recover their most precious possession: Human cremains

 

By LINDA CHILDERS | DEC 29, 2018

Adela Morris, left, and Lynne Engelbert of the Institute for Canine Forensics watch as Jasper sniffs through the rubble of Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein's home looking for her mother's cremated remains after the Woolsey fire gutted Vainstein's home.

The 73-year-old widower pointed to the mantel that once held his wife’s urn. His most precious possession was now missing, lost amid the ashes created by California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in history.

Photo by: Irfan Khan

Los Angeles Times

Search dogs and archaeologists look for cremated remains amid a wildfire's debris

By DAVID MONTERO | DEC 06, 2018

Adela Morris, left, and Lynne Engelbert of the Institute for Canine Forensics watch as Jasper sniffs through the rubble of Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein's home looking for her mother's cremated remains after the Woolsey fire gutted Vainstein's home.

Forensic Dogs Locate Spot Where Amelia Earhart May Have Died

BY RACHEL HARTIGAN SHEA | Published July 7, 2017

NIKUMARORO ISLAND, KIRIBATI  --  Four bone-sniffing dogs that were brought to this remote Pacific island to search for traces of Amelia Earhart have identified a spot where the pioneering aviator may have died 80 years ago.

The dogs—four border collies named Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley—arrived on the island on June 30 as part of an expedition sponsored by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and the National Geographic Society.

Far Western and Institute for Canine Forensics Identify Emigrant Grave

Published July 24, 2017

As part of the NV Energy Assets surveys and site evaluations on the Tahoe National Forest in 2011, Far Western recorded a possible historic grave site on the Overland Emigrant Trail near Truckee. At the request of Forest Service Heritage Program Manager Carrie Smith, we contacted the non-profit Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF) to investigate. The ICF has worked on many archaeological sites, including the Donner Camp, a WWII aircraft crash in Goose Lake, Oregon, and graves under the chapel floor of the Santa Barbara Presidio. Currently they are in the South Pacific on an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society to look for remains of Amelia Earhart and her navigator, missing since 1937.

What A Nose! Trained Dogs Sniff Out Pioneer Era Graves

By Tom Banse | Published on Sepember 29, 2017

Some very special search dogs have been getting a workout in the Northwest. They’re trained to sniff out the remains of people buried as long as 9,000 years ago. This past week, their assignment was to find burials from the early Oregon Trail days.

You've heard of hunting dogs and search and rescue dogs. There are drug-sniffing dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs. And now, the increasing canine specialization brings: historic and prehistoric human remains detection dogs.

© 2019 Institute for Canine Forensics - Established 1997