Do Dogs Sniff Too Much? - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/05/04

Do Dogs Sniff Too Much?

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of an Illinois man, who refused to let officers search his car, but who was indeed carrying drugs in his trunk. The justices will decide if using detection dogs is okay even if the officer has no reason to suspect the driver of hauling drugs. 

Harrison County Deputy Tony Sauro wouldn't think of patrolling the roads without his K-9 partner, Chester. The deputy stopped a car from Texas because the driver had only one tag. Texas requires a front and rear tag.

Sauro determined college student Alan Hernandez's tag is expired, and he has no registration. That's reason enough for Sauro to bring out Chester to sniff around the car. 

"They're saying they came from Houston, Texas with, they traveled from Tallahassee to buy a tag for the car. That was their sole purpose for going to Houston. Well, here they are now three days later going back to Florida without the tag," Sauro says.

Hernandez says he didn't know what to think about the dog. 

"The first thing I thought is I hope he doesn't think I'm trafficking drugs or anything, you know, I'm just trying to get to school."  

Sauro found nothing in Hernandez's car. So he let him go, with some advice. 

"You're going to have to get a valid tag for that car. And if you go through Texas you're going to have to get a front and rear tag on the car, and the registration needs to be on the window," he told the college student.

It's those kind of stops that are being challenged in the U.S. Supreme court. Sauro says how the justices rule could impact not only drug sniffing dogs, but bomb detection K-9's too. 

"We have bomb dogs with this department and narcotics dogs. So, if they rule against the narcotics sniff around the vehicle on a traffic stop they're also ruling against an explosives dog to sniff around the vehicle."

byMarcia Hill

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