The organ can be used to search for bodies at varying stages of decay
IRISH dog handlers are using placenta to help train search hounds to track down missing people.
The organ, which forms on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy, closely replicates human tissue decomposition, and can be used to search for bodies at varying stages of decay.
Irish Search Dogs are on hand to offer year round assistance to agencies dealing with missing person searches.
The charity’s skills have been called into action in a number of cases throughout the years. In March 2011, a four dog team assisted with the search for Deirdre McCarthy, 43, who went missing in Co Clare.
She had been last seen after returning to her home in Ballyvaughan after a night out. Her body was later found on Fanore Beach near Ballyvaughan.
The team was also brought in to help locate missing Joe Walsh. The OAP, 91, had gone missing from his Clonmel home in June 2003 five days prior. It took the two air scenting teams less than an hour to locate Joe, who was found in relatively good health in a corn field.
A mum-of-two who donated her placenta to help train search dogs is now urging others to do the same.
Melissa O’Shea, 34, who lives in Greystones with her son Sam, 6 and daughter Summer, 3, said she was happy to give the gift to Irish Search Dogs.
The mum explained: “I originally kept the placenta with a view to having it encapsulated. This practice is meant to have great health benefits.
“However I was unsure if I had frozen it quickly enough.”
Discussing the training methods for their dogs, ISD Co-ordinator Joanne Horgan told the Irish Sun: “We have received three donations this year so far, which has been great.
“It means each dog and handler team can train on the various stages of decomposition and we can share out the placenta to numerous dog and handler teams for training.”
“Our dogs qualify to find both live, and deceased persons, which means they need to train on both live ‘dogs bodies’ – volunteers who hide or articles of clothing – and ‘cadaver’, which is where placenta comes in extremely useful.
“We use placenta when we can get it, as it most closely replicates human tissue decomposition. We also occasionally use dead piglet as it also is close (though not as close as placenta), to decomposing human tissue.”
The placenta forms on the wall of the uterus during pregnancy and acts as transport system bring food to the foetus, and taking waste away.
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The organ is rich in variety of nutrients and hormones and many perceive there to be health benefits associated with consuming afterbirth, such as improved mood and energy.
Mum-of-two Melissa said she was delighted to donate the organ to a worthy cause and has been urging others follow suit.
She said: “It’s great to know something that costs nothing to donate can potentially train dogs to save lives.”