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Finding Cell Phones
Dogs sniff out smuggled goods in prison
A dog with your cell phone in his mouth--not something anyone, especially a prisoner, wants to see.

Dogs have been trained to detect cancer, bed bugs, and even illegal DVDs. There really is no limit to how our pups can help us. Now canines are being trained to search prisons for smuggled cell phones.

Prisons ban cell phones because inmates can use them to plot escape plans, harass victims or document security procedures. Jail officials have always searched prison cells for phones, but they’ve only recently begun to train dogs for this purpose. Sergeant Wayne Conrad, who leads the K-9 detection program in California, says his dogs can search jail cells in a fraction of the time it takes a human officer. 

Inmates, and even staff members, go to great lengths to smuggle cell phones inside prison walls, where they can be sold or rented for large sums of money. These attempts include hiding pieces of cell phones in radios or watches, transporting phones with the laundry delivery, and even putting phones inside the body. But it doesn’t matter if the phones are on, off, or broken into a million pieces--the dogs will find them. 

Cell phone sniffing dogs work in state prisons across America, including California, Florida, Texas, Virginia and Maryland. The program has increased in popularity in recent years because it’s effective, but also economical. All of the 14 dogs working in California’s 33 prisons are adopted from shelters or rescue groups and go through an eight-week training program.

As of May this year, California prison officials have already confiscated almost 5,000 cell phones thanks to their team of talented pups!

 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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