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Specially-trained dogs help police find child pornography

We're all familiar with drug-sniffing dogs, but did you know that there are canines that can help sniff out child pornography? Specifically, what the dogs are trained to do is detect the faint scent given off by a chemical found in electronic storage devices like thumb drives, external hard drives and SD cards.

These storage devices are often used to store illegal pornographic images. As one prosecutor says, "We were also seeing a trend here where child pornographers, rather than downloading evidence onto a computer, would download evidence onto a removable device and then hide that device in their house."

The use of these specially-trained dogs isn't new. One dog found a thumb drive during the investigation of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle that human investigators hadn't found. In 2015, Fogle was sentenced to over 15 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty in federal court to multiple child pornography-related charges.

The dogs accompany officers who are executing search warrants -- and not just in child porn investigations. These devices are often used to store and conceal evidence of various types of illegal activity, including financial and drug crimes. The dogs alert their human colleagues when they find something and are rewarded with a treat.

Many of these dogs are Labradors originally trained by people in prison to be service dogs. They were determined not to be suited for that type of work, but found a new calling in sniffing out electronics.

The dogs save officers time when executing search warrants. They no longer have to look under every sofa cushion and in every drawer for hidden devices. They are also able to sniff out devices in unusual and hard-to-reach places that their human colleagues might overlook.

If illegal pornographic material is found on devices in your home, whether you knew it was there or not, you could face serious legal consequences -- not to mention irrevocable damage to your career and reputation. It's essential to obtain experienced legal guidance as you go through the legal system.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Dogs that can sniff out electronic devices enlisted in the fight against child porn," John Keilman, April 19, 2018

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