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Drako the Prison Dog Has Sniffed Out 1,000 Cell Phones

The Belgian Malinois is the star of the California prison system, having found massive amounts of contraband in his four years on the job.

 |  Jul 10th 2014  |   0 Contributions


A Belgian Malinois named Drako is the scent star of the California prison system. Last week, he celebrated a milestone: He found his 1,000th cell phone, according to the Reporter. The phone was stuffed in a ridiculously hard-to-find place -- a sink's plumbing in a cell.

It was the latest in massive amounts of contraband Drako has found in his four years on the job. 

"That was a great, spectacular find, because the inmates had actually lifted up their sink and they had figured out how to fit the cellphone in the back plumbing," said his handler, correctional officer Brian Pyle. "Officers had a tough time skinnying their hands up in there to pull the cellphone out. [It] was truly one of those finds that if it wasn't for the dog, it wouldn't have happened."

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A haul discovered by another prison dog, Taser, and his handler, Correctional Officer Chris Salopek.

Agency spokeswoman Dana Simas praised the dog's prowess, ticking off his impressive stats. In addition to the cell phones, Drako has sniffed out 543 pounds of tobacco, more than 21 pounds of marijuana, more than a pound of methamphetamine, and five ounces of heroin, among other items. 

Drako is the first dog in the state to be cross-trained in cellphones and narcotics. He was donated to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation by Debbie Skinner, owner of Paws N Claws Kennel in Agunaga, California, after he failed to make the cut to be a full-patrol police dog. The police-dog trainer said Drako "didn't have enough drive." 

But he's been an ace in California prisons, certified on tobacco, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. Cell phones, however, are the dog's forte -- no matter the creative ways prisoners hide the phones, Drako sniffs them out. 

Pyle, Drako’s handler, says that wireless devices have "unique odors," according to the Reporter.

"He'll alert on a cell phone, he'll alert on a Bluetooth, he's alerted on a laptop with a wireless card installed in it," he said. "What the actual chemical of it is, we don't know. There are a lot of different theories. I know it's not just the battery, and I know it's not just the phone. He can find a battery and he can find a phone. Anything that's ever been attached to a cellphone, he can find it."

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Pyle and Drako.

Pyle says that prisoners hide phones everywhere: "There's nothing typical -- it could be hidden in shampoo bottles, hidden in the mattress ... it could be anywhere," but Drako is a champ at sussing them out. 

“He’s definitely a star here in California prisons,” agency spokeswoman Simas said. “He’s found (cell phones) 10 feet above his head, wrapped in tight (plastic wrap) and put in a peanut butter jar. He’s truly amazing.”

Via the Reporter

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