There are dogs that sniff for drugs, sniff for bugs and even sniff for the deadly Cane toad; however, now the states of Maryland and Virginia have specifically trained dogs to sniff for cell phones that are being smuggled into prisons.
Three dogs have been specifically trained by Division of Correction K-9 Unit officers in Maryland to detect cell phones in an effort to keep the phones out of the prisons. Cell phones are a dangerous and hot commodity as more and more phones are getting into state prisons. During the first six months of last year, prison officials confiscated 396 cell phones; however, this year, that number has risen 15 percent to 456.
Many inmates use the phone to keep in touch with family members, but some use them to commit crimes from inside the prison walls. In February, one inmate has been accused of running the infamous gang, the Bloods, over his illegal cell phone.
Taz, a 5-year-old English Springer Spaniel, was originally a drug sniffing dog. It took him and the two Belgian Malinois only a few weeks of training to gain the expertise to detect the unique scent of a cell phone. During a demonstration, it only took Taz a few minutes to detect a cell phone that had been placed in a carved-out book, which is considered a typical hiding place. The three dogs in Maryland can even locate cell phone SIM cards, which store phone numbers and text messages.
The country of Britain has also been testing a sniffer dog in their prison system. Murphy, another English Springer Spaniel, is the UK’s first and only cell phone sniffing dog. In the past year, approximately 60 phones have been found inside Norwich Prison. “Every mobile phone has a scent, which is unique to mobile phones,” says Mel Barker, a dog trainer at Norwich Prison. “So we’ve homed in on that.” The prison service will be monitoring 20-month-old Murphy’s success to determine the placement of dogs in other prisons.
Florida, Texas and other states are watching the progress that is being seen in Maryland and Virginia.