State v. Barrett, ___ N.C. App. ___, 830 S.E.2d 696 (Jun. 18, 2019)

In this common law robbery case, the State laid a proper foundation for the admission of evidence located by a tracking dog, “Carlo.”  Citing precedent, the court stated the four-factor test used to establish reliability of a tracking dog as follows:

[T]he action of bloodhounds may be received in evidence when it is properly shown: (1) that they are of pure blood, and of a stock characterized by acuteness of scent and power of discrimination; (2) that they possess these qualities, and have been accustomed and trained to pursue the human track; (3) that they have been found by experience [to be] reliable in such pursuit; (4) and that in the particular case they were put on the trail of the guilty party, which was pursued and followed under such circumstances and in such way as to afford substantial assurance, or permit a reasonable inference, of identification.

With regard to the first factor, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the State failed to lay a proper foundation for the tracking dog evidence because “[t]here was never any testimony as to what kind of dog Carlo was” and the State never proffered any evidence that Carlo was “of pure blood.”  Noting that the four-factor test “has been modified over time,” the court explained that “courts have recently placed less emphasis on the breed of the dog and placed more emphasis on the dog’s ability and training.”  The Court found that by Officer McNeal’s testimony as to Carlo’s ability, training, and behavior during the search, “[t]he State laid a proper foundation for admission into evidence the actions and results by Carlo, the tracking dog.”