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Nose For Nokia

There are dogs that sniff for drugs, sniff for bugs and even sniff for cancer; however, now the state of Florida has a specifically trained dog that is able to sniff for cell phones that are being smuggled into their prison system.

Meet Razor, a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois that is in training to become Florida’s first cell phone detecting dog. “Just like a drug dog is trained to smell drugs, Razor is trained to smell cell phones," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said.

Previously, if an inmate was found with a contraband cell phone, they would lose their privileges or lose time off their sentence they’d earned for good behavior. Now, under Florida’s new law that went into effect in October, if a prisoner is caught with a cell phone, they face up to five more years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

“Cell phones in prison pose a significant threat to prison security, because they are used by inmates to coordinate escape attempts, intimidate witnesses, introduce contraband like drugs and weapons into the prison and engage in numerous other illegal activities,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil. “This legislation is a good first step in reducing those problems within our institutions.”

During the 2007-2008 fiscal year, 336 cell phones were found and confiscated from prisoners in Florida. As cell phone technology improves and the phones become smaller, it makes them easier to hide. The new law also bans pagers, PDAs and handheld radios, but officials say the cell phone is the biggest problem.

During sweeps, phones have been found in crafty hiding places such as the sole of shower shoes, in tape players, in soda cans and even inside the rolls of toilet paper. That’s where Razor comes in. "We're hoping to find ones that we otherwise wouldn't find," says Plessinger, who said Razor's $6,500 cost was paid for by the Animal Welfare Foundation of Winter Garden.

Razor’s name is a play on the popular Motorola cell phone, the RAZR, but she is not the only cell phone sniffing dog. We previous introduced you to Taz, the cell phone sniffing dog that is one of three dogs that work for the Maryland prison system. The state of Virginia also has a cell phone sniffing dog. Florida officials hope to have more like her in the future.

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