Nose work

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, February 5, 2004

Thursday, with a presentation in the morning and another in the afternoon, two officers from Corrections Canada in Prince Albert with their dogs, to present to the students of TMSS the abilities of these highly trained animals and carry the message that illegal drugs are a problem that warrants awareness and the need to have the ability to find them.

Tisdale is not the hot bed of drug abuse, but it is important for everyone to be aware that these dangerous chemicals are not just the problem of urban communities. Nor should anyone kid themselves into thinking that illegal drugs are the primary problem facing young people today, when it is clearly established that the most dangerous and lethal drugs are both legal, tobacco and alcohol.

But when comes to producing and involving young people in criminal activity, illegal drugs are often the introduction to the legal
system and sometimes a lifetime of problems.

The officers discussed their work and how their animals are "passive" searchers. They are trained to detect materials like cannabis, hashish, crack cocaine, heroine, cocaine, and designer chemicals like PCT, ecstasy, meth and a host of other similar compounds.

The dogs, who in this case are both the friendly and easy to handle Labrador retrievers can detect residue and lingering odours of these compounds in parts per billion and do so in a surprisingly swift and competent manner. They are trained to signal the presence of the compound then sit to inform their handler that they have found what they were trained to detect. Once their work is done the handler rewards the dog with play with some toy.

The two officers explained the role of the dogs and the various protocols of their tasks but it was clear that the star of the show was pretty laid back about the work performed.

First with one dog, then the other, they did a search of the stage and both dogs signaled a detected substance. Inside a box, inside a carrying bag, was a plastic bag of marijuana. This emphasised to the students, that even masked with other scents, or securely hidden, the ability of the dog's nose to pick up really incredibly small amounts means that if the dog smells for a substance and the substance is present, it will most certainly be detected.

The process of a search is depicted on this page with the QuickTime video clip, which is thirty seconds long and 2MB to download. (If you do not have QuickTime download it by clicking here, it is free and easy to install.)

After the search demonstration, five teachers were brought on the stage with one of them having touched the bag in the earlier search. Both dogs correctly identified the person who had made contact. (picture at bottom of this page)

Explaining a mild ailment recently to a physician resulted in him asking if I wanted him to prescribe a medicine for the problem. In a world where pharmaceutical commercials appear for everything from sex to depression, it is no wonder that society today has to deal with the ever present issue of their young people looking for chemical fixes of some sort. "Got a problem? Any problem, take something for it, why suffer?" Though tobacco is by far the most addictive chemical, to be found closely followed by coffee, most of the illegal drugs that are readily available cause monstrous problems for the user.

and hashish are often described as mild, but like Valium or Phenobarbital (prescriptive mood altering chemicals) anyone who becomes involved with these chemicals is in danger of upsetting their natural ability to enjoy life as
it is. All illicit substances are expensive and it is this that often connects their abuse with break-ins and other crimes to produce the cash to buy the stash.

The demonstration today certainly made me wonder about the issue of illegal drugs and I was just as concerned about the legal ones abused for the same reasons. With such formidable capabilities, the dogs demonstrated how little chance anyone would have, of going undetected, if they were either using, or handling these illicit substances.

TMSS is clearly doing its part to bring this to its students attention and by so doing give the community a hand in dealing with the threat of distribution and consumption of hazardous drugs.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004