Substance Detection Golden Retrievers:
Drugs Drug detection dogs assist those in law
enforcement locate illegal narcotics. They work at
airports, bus stations, border crossings, sea ports,
schools, and businesses. These dogs are trained to sniff
out drugs or contraband and alert the authorities by
scratching at the surface near the source of the smell
or sitting down next to its source.
Wondering what kind of dogs do well in
this work? "You want a dog with an
inherently strong play drive," says Officer Kevin O'Malley, "One that isn't afraid to jump on furniture,
sniff inside a TV or scratch behind a light switch. These dogs
aren't concerned with obedience training. They just want to follow
their noses and get the scent of a narcotic so they can lead us to
the hidden drugs. It's all a big game to them."
The textbook, Basic Narcotic Detection Dog Training,
provides a great resource for those who want to learn more about this field.
Nitro Golden Retriever puppy Murphy, of the Bensalem PA Police Department,
is working the dope boxes at a mere eight weeks of age.
June 2009: The High Springs Police
Department has received their first K-9 partner against crime,
Aggie, a Golden Retriever. Lindsay Smith reports for The North
Florida Herald in the video below.
In 1969 the Customs Service studied the feasibility of using dogs to detect
narcotics. In 1970 the program began, renamed the
Canine Enforcement Program(CEP)in 1980.
What types of dogs are used?
Pure and mixed breeds are used─their
displayed enthusiasm toward retrieving a given object
critical. Many are tested to see if they possess the desired traits,
but only a
few are taken in. Dogs, of either sex, must be
1-3 years of age.
How does the CEP obtain its dogs? The dogs come from shelters,
rescues, and humane societies. Dogs are also donated, purchased, or
are provided through their
own breeding program.
What are the dogs taught to find? They are taught to detect concealed drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin,
cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy. And, the officers are trained how to utilize and
enhance detection skills.
What's a typical workday for a team? They work an 8-hour day.
Those at airports examine aircraft, vessels, baggage, cargo, mail,
and passengers. Those at land border crossings examine vehicles and merchandise.
Daily training exercises also enhance canine performance.
How do dogs compare with people? At borders a team can examine vehicles in 5-6 minutes─a cursory search by an
officer without a dog requiring at least 20
minutes. Dogs can check packages in a fraction of the time needed by mail
examiners, actually processing 400 to 500 packages in about 30
How many years does the CEP keep dogs on the job? What happens after they
retire? These dogs' careers typically last
no longer than eight years. Upon retirement, their handlers usually adopt the
dogs or a good home is found.
TaleTell: Your own Stories of Drug Detection Goldens Meet some wonderful, hard-working 4-footed detectors.
And, if you have a Drug Detection Golden tale to tell, just
send it, along with photos, to: ckba