“Scent lineups,” in which a dog chooses a crime suspect's smell out of a group, are under scrutiny, reports the New York Times. Dogs' noses have long proved useful to track people, and the police rely on them to detect drugs and explosives, and to find the bodies of victims of crime and disaster. Scent lineups, however, are different. Critics say that the possibilities of cross-contamination of scent are great, and that the procedures are rarely well controlled.
Nonetheless, although some courts have rejected evidence from them, the technique has been used in many states, including Alaska, Florida, New York and Texas, said Lawrence J. Myers, an associate professor of animal behavior at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. In particular, the methods of dog handlers in seven particular cases that are the basis of lawsuits have come under fierce attack.