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Dogs trained to sniff out cell phones

November 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Specially-trained dogs have long been used by the military and law enforcement to take advantage of their remarkable sense of smell. Now a special group of K9 dogs are being trained for a whole new mission. Four-year-old "Sugar" leads Harlen Lambert through what's made to look like a prison cell. The German Shepherd sits when he's found something, but it is not drugs.

WATCH: Search dogs in action locating contraband cell phones

"These dogs are trained to detect the odor of cell phones," said Harlen Lambert, All States K9 Detection.

Lambert's company is training 18 dogs at its facility in Fullerton to search for cell phones in prisons to keep them away from inmates.

"They use cell phones to conduct criminal activity from inside out," said Lambert.

In Vacaville, Solano State Prison officials have confiscated 600 working cell phones from inmates in the past year.

"Most of the guards and cops knew I had a cell phone. But it was their job is to catch me with the cell phone," said a former prisoner.

A former inmate who does not want to be identified says phones kept him in touch with society. Authorities, however, say inmates can use cell phones to order gang violence.

"For the most part, still involved with gangs, although they are incarcerated they are still involved within the gangs," said Sgt. Jim Mayoral, Vacaville Police Department.

Six dogs trained by Lambert are already being used for cell phone searches in prisons in Virginia.

The company is the first in the U.S to train dogs specifically to look for cell phones in prisons, and they're finding them in all places. To test them we hide it inside a phone book and put it on a shelf.

Lambert says his dogs have sniffed out cell phones wrapped in plastic underwater inside toilet tanks.

Even concealed in plastic containers sometimes hidden in peanut butter. In just minutes "Sugar" finds our cell phone.

His reward is his favorite toy. His trainers reward, knowing his dog is honing his skills that he hopes will soon be used in U.S. prisons to search for something so ordinary, but potentially harmful in the wrong hands.


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