WNYT.com

K9 Detection helps parents make sure their kids are safe

Posted at: 05/02/2013 6:05 PM
Updated at: 05/02/2013 6:57 PM
By: Jim Kambrich



How far would you go to make sure that your child isn't using drugs in your house?

More and more parents are going the extra mile and hiring drug sniffing dogs to make sure their children are safe

Dave Harrington and his partner Willy are part of a growing industry across the country: drug sniffing dogs for hire.

Willy, a 3 1/2 year old Labrador Retriever, is not a police dog.

He is a specially trained detection dog: trained to track down stashes of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

His partner, Stone, is also trained to sniff out a variety of drugs including ecstasy, also guns and ammunition.

Together they make up "Specialized K9 Detection Services."

Not only does Willy have a sense of smell that is thousands of times greater than a humans, he also has more than 400 hours of training with the ability to pick out four different scents.

His handler, Dave, is a retired police officer, and together their expertise provides a service for parents who are desperate for help.

“People historically don't seek out help when they know, in the end, you're calling law enforcement and someone might get arrested. We can provide the option that maybe there are other ways to deal with it, other than bringing in law enforcement,” said Dave.

In a demonstration, Willy searched a house looking for a marijuana scented cloth hidden inside a can. It takes him only a few minutes to find it--alerting his handler by sitting down.

But that's as far as it goes. If the demonstration were an actual search, it would be up to the homeowner to investigate further and find the drugs.

“You usually have a reason. There's a suspicion. Maybe somebody came to visit their child, and they suspected or smelled something on that person, and they want to make sure nothing is left in the house,” said dave.

Psychologists caution that the parent/child relationship could be hurt in the event of a search, and  parents need to keep the lines of communication open with a child who will likely feel betrayed and angry.

“You get a kid who shows you some anger and if you hang in there with them and you don't just shut him or her up and you say, ‘I know this is hard for your son. I know this is tough for you and I love you.’ and kinda approach it like you would with anything, you'd be surprised how many folks remember that later on when they're hopefully in recovery,” said Psychiatrist Dr. Ferraioli,

And what about legal entanglements? What about your child's argument that you violated their right to privacy?

Actually no, says attorney Arnold Proskin. “Ya know it's a question of: it's my home. If I want my house investigated. I can do that,” he said.

A informal four legged investigation that experts hope will open and improve family communications, and keep the option of police intervention as a last resort