States use dogs to search for smuggled cell phones

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In this photo taken Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010, Correctional K-9, Drako, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, searches a bunk for a cell phone in a mock prison cell, with his handler, Correctional Officer Brian Pyle, during a demonstration at a training facility in Galt, Calif. Drako is one of five dogs specially trained to sniff out cell phones that have been smuggled into California prisons.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

GALT, Calif. -- They've been finding hidden bombs, drugs and corpses for years, using their sense of smell to locate what their human handlers would otherwise have to see in plain sight.

Now dogs are being deployed in prisons to help curb one of the most serious problems confronting corrections officials: smuggled cell phones.

It turns out that cell phones smell. And their distinct odor can lead a well-trained canine to a device hidden under a mattress, stashed into a wall or tucked into a fan or radio.

Inmates use them to arrange drug deals, plot escapes and attacks, coordinate riots and harass victims.

Cell phone-sniffing dogs have been dispatched in prisons in a handful of states, including California, as other methods to heel the problem have fallen short.

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