Pubdate: Sat, 09 May 2015
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Sun Media
Author: Ian MacAlpine
Page: A1


Canines work at sniffing out drugs, firearms and ammunition at area

A visitor who once tried to smuggle some drugs into an area
correctional institution appeared to be drug-free to correctional
service officers, but one of the institution's drug-sniffing dogs
didn't think so.

A search of the individual didn't show any drugs and to the human nose
there was no odour of drugs on the person.

But as the dog sniffed the visitor, it stopped at his foot and sat
down, an indication it had found drugs.

But a closer examination of the person's running shoe didn't lead to
any clues.

"There's drugs in the shoe," the dog handler said. The correctional
officer disagreed but was convinced by the dog handler to open up the
sole of the shoe and take a look. Drugs were found inside. The visitor
had done an almost perfect job reglueing the shoe, which fooled the
correctional officer but not the nifty nose of one of the 15 drug
detector dogs working at federal correctional institutions in the
Kingston area.

That's just one of the many stories dog handlers have about how crafty
and creative visitors can be when they try to carry contraband into
any of the area's institutions.

Although there's no specific information on how many drug seizures are
detected by dogs and their handlers, according to Correctional Service
Canada there were 265 drug-related seizures from March 31, 2014, to
the end of January this year at Kingston- area institutions -
Joyceville, Collins Bay, Millhaven and Bath Institutions as well as
the Regional Treatment Centre.

CSC uses a variety of strategies to keep contraband out of its
facilities, including staff interventions, intelligence gathering and
analysis, searches of offenders and visitors, searches of buildings
and cells, technology such as ion scanners and X- ray devices, as well
as the use of drug detector dogs.

Correctional officer Roger Huneault is one of CSC's longest serving
dog handlers. He got in on the ground floor when the program started
in 2000.

He's one of five dog handlers working at Joyceville and Pittsburgh

His day starts at 5: 30 a. m. from his home out in the country near

When he lets Nico, his golden labra-doodle, out of his kennel, the
canine companion knows it's time to go to work.

Huneault says that when the door to his specialized van opens up, the
dog enthusiastically runs in.

"The fun for the dog is at work," Huneault said this week at
Joyceville Institution.

"So when you open that kennel and open the van door, they know they're
going to work and bolt to that door."

At home, the dog rests with a moderate amount of exercise but very
little family time, spending lots of time in the kennel.

The dog's only reward at work is a red rubber ball that the handler
throws after a successful search or when the search is completed.

When he gets home from work, the dog appears to be bored, Huneault

Huneault said it is part of the dog's training to not stimulate them
too much at home.

"If they're having fun, play and reward at home, they're not going to
come to work and be effective here."

The dogs are trained through Canada Border Services in Rigaud,

CSC's dogs are trained to detect hard and soft drugs, some
pharmaceuticals, hashish,marijuana, heroin, cocaine and opium. They're
also trained to smell for firearms and ammunition.

Canada Border Services also trains its dogs to smell for currency,
bombs, food and plants.

Huneault says dogs and handlers spend a few days every fall at the
training centre honing their skills

"The dog is evaluated, the handler is evaluated. Any problems are
addressed and brought to your attention."

While at the institutions, dogs search visitors, new inmates coming in
from the provincial system, cells, building, vehicles and fields
outside the walls of the prisons. 10 million times more sensitive than
a human's.

For example, a person can smell spaghetti cooking on the stove, while
a dog can identify every ingredient in the sauce.

"The dog uses all of his brain to process what all of his nose
brings," Huneault said.

When the program began, dogs were detecting drugs all the time. People
would simply hide drugs in their shoes, pockets or underwear and were
easily sniffed out.

Now, smugglers are getting craftier, wrapping drugs thicker with duct
tape and plastic and finding creative places to hide them on or in
their bodies.

But the dog's sense of smell is so great it can usually smell a drug
inside a person.

"We've had lots of drug seizures where the person had it internally,"
Huneault said.

A dog can smell a drug inside a person by simply sniffing behind a
person, Huneault said.

But sometimes odourless drugs can get in.

Huneault said that every time a seizure was made, the inmates would
discuss it and try to figure out ways to avoid detection the next time.

"They've reduced the amount of contraband that they're bringing in,
but they're wrapping it up better and trying to get the odour off," he

"They've gone on the Internet, they've done their homework, and
they're professionals.

"We're professionals and they're professionals. It's a big
professional cat- and-mouse game."

Searches of visitors only take a few moments. People who need to be
searched are sent to a special room near the reception area of an
institution and they are instructed to stand on marks on the floor.

"The dog will source the odour, the dog will show body language right
off the bat and it will source it," Huneault said.

"If there's big odour, the dog will get it right away."

Handlers always have their dogs on a leash while searching people. In
other scenarios, they can go off-leash as long as it's safe.

"The dogs are passive. They don't have a whole lot of contact with
people. Th e ta i l might hit them, their nose might touch them.
People have been schooled and told there may be some incidental contact."

If drugs are found, the dog will get as close to it as it can, then
sit and wait for its reward.

"He'll sit and look for his reward, that's the indication. It's very
quick. A lot of people don't even notice.

"They're rewarded with the ball; that's all they work for is the

Other dogs working at Joyceville and Pittsburgh are Rosie, a Nova
Scotia duck-trolling retriever; Blitz, a black lab cross; and Sabre,
a chocolate lab. Hunting breeds and retrievers are the best dogs to
use, Huneault said.

"They're dogs that won't stop retrieving. They love to

The dog and its handler, Huneault said, make for a great unit to
battle the contraband smuggling.

"A handler and his canine, a well-trained team - and it's a team; one
doesn't work well without the other - is probably the most effective
tool anywhere."
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