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K9 Human Remains Detection

Dog searching for remains
Dog searching

This workshop is held by the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) in cooperation with FIRST Detection K9 and selected cadaver dog handlers.

History: K9 training coordinator Dr. Ben Alexander established the training seminars in 2013 bringing in nationally recognized trainers Ann Christensen and Bill Dotson as the initial instructors in order to establish a high quality teaching program as well as mentor the next generation of instructors. We are forever grateful to Ann and Bill for their guidance in helping to create the guiding principles of this program. FACTS seminars provide access to outstanding training resources largely unobtainable in many parts of the country as well as provide valuable guidance to improve the performance of your HRD K9 partner.

Instructors are listed by the specific seminar below. Current instructor staff: Ben Alexander, Tiffanie Turner, Heather Suedkamp, Lisa Higgins, and Karen Paquette. Current assistant instructors include: Craig Schultz, Nadine Conner, D’Lynn Lehew, Kristin Smaltz-Blackmon, Bruce Treziak and Kayla Hardin. FIRST Detection K9 members and selected cadaver dog handlers from all over the country volunteer to provide assistance and escort of K9 teams during training within the facility.

F.A.C.T.S. is a world class facility and offers an experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world! Participants are provided opportunities to expose their dogs to full body decomposition at the FACTS facility located on Freeman Ranch between San Marcos and Wimberley, TX. Training scenarios include full body burial and complete surface remains in various states of decomposition. K9 teams get to search for a recently deceased body in a 2-5 acre area with the ability to work the K9 off lead. Students will have the opportunity to expose their dogs to a wide array of human remains varying in both size and level of decomposition from fresh to skeletonized.

Class size is always limited. We keep a 1 to 6 ratio (1 instructor to six students). Classroom instruction includes presentations such as human versus non-human bone identification, canine learning theory, decomposition, case study and courtroom issues.

Level I K9 HRD Seminar – This is the seminar we have been having since 2013. This is appropriate for certified dogs from the beginning of their career as well as experienced dogs.

Level II Advanced Scenario K9 HRD Seminar – Dogs must have attended a Level I. This seminar is for handlers who want to challenge their dogs and work realistic scenarios in a variety of environments with realistic and appropriate amounts of human remains for said scenario (trace to whole body).

Group seminars are held bi-annually at the beginning of March and at the end of October. Groups may also book the facility for private seminars where the curriculum can be focused on the particular needs of the group. Contact Dr. Ben Alexander (information below) for further information on private seminars.

Pay By Credit Card

Pay by Credit Card

You cannot pay unless you have submitted your registration form and received approval from Dr. Ben Alexander.  If you are waiting on approval or have questions about registration, please contact Dr. Alexander. 

You may pay the non-refundable tuition or deposit by credit card by clicking on the PAY HERE link below and following the instructions. If you have any questions please contact Sophia Mavroudas at 512-245-1900 or



dog searching
Dog Team Seraching

October 25-27, 2019

Location: Texas State University, Freeman Ranch 2101 Freeman Ranch Road, San Marcos

Times: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Registration:  Please complete and submit the REGISTRATION FORM


Instructors: Ben Alexander, Lisa Higgins, Heather Suedkamp, & Tiffanie Turner

Assistant Instructors:  Nadine Conner, Kristen Blackman, Bruce Treziak, Edie Wiley and D'Lynn Lehewr.


Contact: Ben Alexander (979-739-8353 or for details about the course or

Sophia Mavroudas ( or 512-245-1900) for local arrangements.

Photos by Rebecca Ross of March 2013 Seminar

Rebecca Ross Photos

To see more of Rebecca Ross' fantastic photos visit Life of Riley Pet Photography


Any Hotel/Motel within San Marcos will be within about 15 min of the workshop site. All hotels should accommodate service dogs.

October 26-28, 2018

Location: Texas State University, Freeman Ranch 2101 Freeman Ranch Rd, San Marcos, TX 78666

Registration:  Please complete and submit the REGISTRATION FORM for approval

Contact:  Dr. Ben Alexander (979) 739-8353 or for details about the course