South Yorkshire Police tracker dogs in vital role in hunt for missing Madeleine

11 August 2007
Sheffield Star

The specks of blood in missing Madeleine McCann's Portugal apartment were found by a South Yorkshire Police sniffer dog, it has been revealed.

It is understood the new clue was discovered by a team led by Sheffield-based South Yorkshire Police officer Pc Martin Grime, one of the world's top sniffer dog handlers.

Pc Grime works with specially-trained springer spaniels who can sniff out the smallest samples of human blood, even after items have been cleaned or washed many times.

Two dogs were sent into the apartment where Madeleine was last seen, in Praia de Luz on the Algarve, and were also involved in a search of suspect Robert Murat's home.

One of the spaniels is believed to be three-year-old Keela, a "blood dog" who can detect tiny specks of blood invisible to the human eye that could be months or even years old.

The other is thought to be a "body dog" called Eddie, specially trained to locate and unearth corpses.

The samples found in the apartment will now be analysed in a Birmingham lab. If they are confirmed as blood, police will check the DNA against Madeleine's.

South Yorkshire Police declined to comment on whether the Sheffield dogs were involved in the investigation. But a source said at least one dog had been sent to Portugal from the police dog training school at Niagara in Wadsley Bridge.

The dogs, which command £1,000 a day for their first-class skills, have worked on several high-profile murder cases in the UK and abroad, helping solve recent crimes and incidents up to 25 years old.

Keela worked on the attempted murder of young mum Abigail Witchells in Surrey in 2005, and has been to America to demonstrate to the FBI.

Madeleine, from Leicestershire, disappeared from a holiday apartment over three months ago, on May 3. She had been left with twin brother Sean and sister Amelie while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

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