Dogs have and continue to play a significant role in our society and through the assistance they give keep the held belief that dogs are man’s best friend. For thousands of years humans and dogs have worked side by side, starting from the earliest human to wolves. This symbiotic relationship between man and beast has helped each species grow; from hunting, to herding and protecting livestock, to service dogs, and the everyday pet dog. With the training of today dogs can now serve beyond their just their masters and families but also the public.
In this age, most major city police forces have employed these highly trained pooches to work in their department. These dogs are used to help their human police officer partners by tracking criminals, finding contraband, searching locations and other jobs that would be a greater hardship on the human officers.
A main component in why police dogs are used is their heightened sense of smell. A dog’s sense of smell is 50 times more sensitive than any human.
Using this ability the police dog can sniff out a multitude of illegal substances, criminals, and bombs. Criminals hide these items very well by hiding them in walls, cars, even underground. In order to find these a human officer would have to comb through every inch of the scene. This would be very time consuming and may put the officer at risk. A dog’s nose in addition to being able to smell a lot can also discern these smells and can discern certain scents, even when other scents are used to try and hide it.
Criminals have been known to wrap the contraband in towels doused in perfume to fool the drug- sniffing dogs but the dogs find it anyways.
In one case, Lt. John Pickles, a K9 unit working with the Lawrence Police Department in Lawrence, MI, during a traffic stop an officer noticed several signs that the car may be used to smuggle contraband (aftermarket insulation, numerous cans of perfume, air freshener and a single key to the ignition), the officer called in a K9 Unit to sniff it out. Lt. John Pickles did a “walk around” and soon alerted his handler that there was something in the car. After praying through insulation and rubber a secret compartment was found, right where Lt. John Pickles alerted to, containing 43 grams of heroin, 9 grams of crack cocaine and a silver, AMT .45 caliber handgun. With his sensitive nose Lt. John Pickles were able to help in the removal of drugs off the street.
Their ability to smell is not the only attribute they bring alongside a police officer. When a patrolman is walking alongside a canine officer there is also a feeling of intimidation that strikes fear into the perpetrator. The very presence of the police dog helps to encourage a peaceful surrender instead of the perpetrator running or fighting.