UNH scientist training rats to locate bodies during disaster situations like Florida condo collapse

A University of New Haven Animal Forensics expert says rats could soon be used to locate bodies in the event disaster strikes like the condominium collapse in Florida.

News 12 Staff

Jul 6, 2021, 7:52 PM

Updated 1,014 days ago

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A University of New Haven Animal Forensics expert says rats could soon be used to locate bodies in the event disaster strikes like the condominium collapse in Florida.  
Animal forensics expert Chris O'Brien at the University of New Haven says rats can be sent into disaster sites equipped with GPS trackers.
"When they find a set of remains, they essentially sit there, so you'll see the GPS tracker move along and when it stops moving there's a set of remains there," O'Brien says.  
For almost two weeks, rescue crews have searched for bodies at the condominium collapse in Florida, and it has been a slow and daunting process.
O'Brien says rats can get to smaller and more hidden locations.
He says dogs can get injured and rely on a handler to get to critical spots in the rubble.
O'Brien says since the recovery effort in Florida started, crews have been looking for articles of clothing or a wedding band to identify victims. But it's a long process.
"It takes time. I mean, you don't want to go in there with a backhoe.  If you go in there with a backhoe, you don't want to disturb the remains so you're going to slowly if you think everybody has passed away in that environment, you're going to slowly remove those bits of rubble so that you can collect the individuals," he says.  
O'Brien says so far, most of the bodies that have been recovered are intact, but the situation would be much different than if the building had exploded.
O'Brien adds that DNA technology may be needed, as the work to recover victims drags on.


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