Not really… now to the real story.
In 2006, a Florida deputy stopped Clayton Harris for an expired plate, and asked him to search his car. Knowing his rights, Clayton refused the officer’s request. As a result, the sheriff detained Harris until a police dog could be brought, and this dog sniffed the car, gave off an alert, and then the car was searched. The resulting search produced items used in methamphetamine production, and Clayton was arrested. Two months prior to this, the same vehicle had been searched, and the result was that nothing was found. Clayton’s attorney’s appealed to the court, seeking to strike the evidence and charge, because of a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This request was denied.
The basic argument is this – that dogs are not 100% accurate. Police equipment must be accessed regularly to insure that it is completely accurate, and attorneys are arguing this same point with animals. For example, radar guns must be regularly calibrated. If one is not calibrated by a professional trained in doing it, then a speeding ticket can be overturned. This should be true for animals. If police officials want to use them as a method for overturning the threshold of reasonable suspicion, then they should be expected to prove that the animal experts they are calling on for services are genuine.
One study presented, shows that officers who are taking animals to sites where they believe drugs are, are 85% likely to have some kind of drug trigger – even when there is nothing really there. With statistics like this, it is reasonable to require some form of inspection for both handler and animal, to determine if this can be used to surpass an individual’s right to warrantless searches.
One website discusses the difference between the pseudo drugs that dogs are trained with, and real drugs. She adequatly sums it up by saying that she wouldn’t want to be defending the position of a dog that has only had pseudo drug training in court.
“I am not a fan of using pseudo drugs after the first couple of weeks of imprinting the drug scent in training. Pseudo drugs are not narcotic. They are therefore not illegal to have. How can a K9 Officer that regularly trains with pseudo testify that his dog only hits on illegal substances? Where does the probable cause go? I would not want to be the officer that has to justify this in court.”
There needs to be some accountability for policing officials that protects our Fourth Amendment Right against warrantless searches. Here’s a little spoof that was made to depict the un-reliability of dogs to search out drugs and other things.
*AGAIN, this is only to serve a point, and is not factual. Police dogs obviously have more extensive training…
Spanky the Pug has undergone extensive training to be a bomb / drug sniffing pug. He also has a level 4 black belt, which entitles him to chew anyone that he wants without legal repercussions (that’s another subject completely). He has a record of sniffing one million things, and has never smelled drugs or a bomb. However, this still constitutes him as an expert and allows him to search your house or car without a warrant.