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Canine Units Play Major Role In Long Island Beach Body Search

Emergency personnel examine an object on the side of the road, center, near Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y., Monday, April 11, 2011.  (credit: Seth Wenig/AP)

Emergency personnel examine an object on the side of the road, center, near Jones Beach in Wantagh, N.Y., Monday, April 11, 2011. (credit: Seth Wenig/AP)

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OAK BEACH, NY (WCBS 880) - Search dogs, along with their training officers, have spent months along Long Island’s Ocean Parkway looking for human remains.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall: They’re All German Shepherds

One of the dogs, named “Blue,” found five bodies. Suffolk County police officer Ralph Full-Byer trains the dogs and says they have helped tremendously in combing through the tall grass and poison ivy when searching for evidence.

“The dogs have incredible drive. They’ll work until the cows come home, so to speak. They’ll keep working and working with no regard to how they feel,” says Full-Byer.

The dogs are specially trained for 16 weeks.

“What we train the dogs to do is to cue in on human scent. So, as an example, if you’re holding your keys in your hand, you’re leaving scent on those set of keys. [It's] the same with a gun, a knife or anything else. If that’s tossed into the woods or into an area, the dogs are cued to go and try to seek that out,” he said.

Full-Byer said if he hid keys under a pile of leaves in an area the size of a football field, the dogs would likely find the keys within three minutes.

The dogs are all German Shepherds and normally work for nine years before they are retired. In most cases, their police officer handler eventually adopts the dog.

Authorities have found ten sets of remains since New Jersey prostitute Shannan Gilbert went missing in Oak Beach. She has not been found.

Authorities also say the killings may be the work of up to three different individuals.