N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--March 1997

New DOC Dog Sniffing Around State Prisons

Fayetteville - One of the newest "officers" to join the Department of Correction stands only two feet tall, wears a DOC badge around his neck, and carries a mean bark. Arras, a 14-month-old Belgian Malinois is about to begin an important mission in the Division of Prisons. His job is to find drugs smuggled into prison and prevent more drugs from coming in.

"We’ve seen a slow increase in the number of inmates testing positive for drugs," said Security Chief Charles Stewart. "We hope that the drug dog will help stem the problem."

Correction officer Claude Taylor trained Arras for six weeks. During one training exercise, drugs and a gun were hidden in a desk, a wagon, a locker, a dresser, and other hiding places inside an old storage building. Under his trainer’s command and guidance, Arras found each of the hiding spots in a matter of seconds. He aggressively grabbed the bags of drugs and weapon with his sharp teeth and held them tightly before releasing them to his trainer.

In another exercise, Arras sniffed the human scent from an open package of cigarettes lying on the ground and was told to find the owner. Arras quickly took off running, tracking the scent through tall grass and trees. Arras found the person he was looking for (less than a mile away) in less than two minutes.

"It’s amazing to see this dog take a scent off everything from a gear shift, spent shell casings, blood, saliva, money, or articles of clothing and find the owner," said Taylor. He can pick one scent out of a thousand. If Arras is tracking a particular human scent, he will not be distracted by other human scents he may encounter along the way. "I’ve built a relationship with this dog," Taylor said, "now he’s an extension of me. Wherever you see me, you’ll see Arras."

Arras will travel inside an air-conditioned truck with his trainer to avoid extreme temperatures on the way to a work site. His diet consists of five cups of dry dog food a day.

"The drug dog will serve as a strong reminder to both inmates and visitors that drugs will not be tolerated in our prison system," said Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis.

Besides searching prison cells and dormitories, the drug dog can also detect drugs being smuggled into prison through visitors, mail, vehicles or other ways. "We will also be able to assist local law enforcement," Stewart said.


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