Prisoners who try to keep illegal cell phones in Butler County Jail in the United States have a big problem when it comes to keeping their illicit contraband a secret – thanks to Tank, the police dog with a nose for old cell phones. The chocolate Labrador retriever, who is only 18 months old, is a key weapon in the authorities’ campaign to keep the prison free from used cell phones, as well as other illegal items such as drugs and tobacco.
“This is play to him,” notes Tank’s partner, Corrections Officer Chris Morris. “He will do anything for a ball.” Tank can smell the lithium battery that is essential to the operation of a cell phone, a fact that makes his nose a valuable resource when it comes to policing the prison, though Morris notes that the dog is trained to only find cell phones when told to do so. “We want to make sure he doesn’t just go up to anyone with a cell phone or cigarette,” he admits. Tank is the only dog capable of sniffing out cell phones and other contraband in the area, and one of only a handful across the whole of the state.
“There have been a few around for about four or five years,” says Tracy Landis from Ultimate Working Dog, which trains dogs. “They are used in jails and prisons because cell phones and tobacco are contraband there just as much as narcotics.”