MIAMI (CBS4) – You saw them on the television news for four days this week:  Cadaver – or human remains – dogs searching for the body of Lynda Meier in a scrub in Northwest Miami-Dade County.

Meier disappeared just over a year ago from her Hallandale Beach home and is presumed to have been murdered.

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Based on “new information and intelligence” investigators believed her remains could be found somewhere in the brush and trees of the 200 acre remote area near the Florida Turnpike and Northwest 57th Avenue.

The dogs that scoured the area are a specially trained corps.  They search only for human remains – not bombs, or narcotics, or the living.  They live to find the dead.

Three of the cadaver dogs that participated in the Meier search were from South Florida:  Shiloh, a frisky young golden retriever whose partner is Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Pamela Parker; Blade, a Belgian malonois trained by Miami-Dade police officer Pedro Otano; and Jewel, a golden labrador who teams with Miramar police officer Gregory Strickland.

The dogs were trained at a facility in Kendall, operated by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.  They are part of the Florida Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue team that is available to respond to natural and man-made disasters across the country and around the world.  They are also called on to find the bodies of murder and accident victims in woods, secreted in attics or basements, and even under water.

How can a dog detect human remains beneath water?

“It’s like oil and water,” said Otano.  “Oil always rises to the top, and it’s the same thing with body fluids.  Body fluids rise to the top.”

The human remains dogs alert only to human tissue – not dead animals or other decaying matter.

Friday, they were hunting for remains concealed in canning jars, covered by a pile of concrete debris.

Shiloh and Jewel sniffed around the area and in a matter of minutes found “the body.”

They were rewarded by getting to chase a toy and play tug of war with their handlers.

“That is her paycheck,” said Strickland as he wrestled with Jewel over a bean bag toy.  “This is what she works for, is for us to play.”

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The dogs alert to a find by simply sitting down next to it.  Unlike narcotics dogs that scratch and claw when they smell dope, the cadaver dogs are trained not to disturb the site and possibly damage crucial evidence.

The training is conducted with real human remains.

“Real human remains, yes,” said Otana.  “We don’t train them with artificial odors or anything like that.”

The remains used in the training are obtained through the morgue.

Shiloh, the retriever, scampered along a lengthy, cramped, concrete corridor only a couple of feet tall as Parker put her through her paces Friday.

“Most dogs are uncomfortable in dark and enclosed environments,” Parker said.  But the other cadaver dogs enthusiastically go in dark places in search of dark and sometimes dastardly secrets.

“I don’t try to look at it as being grim,” said Officer Strickland of the work.  “We bring closure to families who have lost a loved one.”

Research shows the cadaver dogs never alert falsely.

“There’s something there.  Some sort of human source is there,” when a dog alerts, said Captain Parker.

In the search for Lynda Meier’s body this week, multiple dogs alerted to an area about ten feet square in the woods.  CSI technicians dug and sifted through the area and found nothing.

It’s possible that someone was injured and previously bled on the site, Parker said.

“These dogs can alert to a single human tooth,” she said.

Miami-Dade police Lieutenant Jeff Schmidinger, a K-9 supervisor, was careful to stress that he was not involved in the investigation of Linda Meier’s disappearance, but speculated that the dogs may have alerted to a spot where a body had been deposited and later removed.

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“Their noses don’t lie,” he said.