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Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Piracy 147

RockDoctor writes "Northern Ireland has for decades been using sniffer dogs to detect bombs and bomb-making materials. According to the BBC, a dog trainer in the Province has trained two dogs to sniff out some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of optical discs. While this has an obvious risk of false positives (polycarbonate plastics and their associated plasticizer additives are used in many other industries, for example), it does seem to be effective at locating discs which are not declared in customs manifests, and doing so much faster than human inspection of the cargo can do."
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Dogs Trained to Sniff Out Piracy

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  • by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @06:16PM (#18396827)
    This is probably to catch 'round tripping' tax avoidance. This technique was accidentally discovered by Sir Richard Branson when he started Virgin Media. Basically what he did, was to export discs to France with faulty paperwork or something, have it refused entry, then he turned around and drove back to Britain. Since the stuff was officially exported, he somehow scored on the VAT when he subsequently sold them in his UK shops. Eventually he got caught though, once he got too brazen about it.
  • Security Theater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hans Lehmann ( 571625 ) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @07:12PM (#18397117)
    These trained dogs, unless deployed for a limited time in a specific area, are there for little more than show. Although they can be trained to sniff out almost anything, they aren't robots. The dogs treat it as a game, but they need frequent breaks or they'll quickly tire of it. You can't just march a dog for 8 hours around the airport and expect him to magically find any contraband that finds its way into the building. They may be the best choice in a situation such as a building collapse, where they need to find bodies in an area of a few thousand square feet, but to expect that even hundreds of these dogs will be able to sniff the millions of cargo containers that come into this country every year is laughable. Besides, since it's perfectly legal to ship blank media, anyone in the bootlegging business will just declare the cargo and it will get lost among the false positives of all the other blank DVDs that come in from overseas. But I guess that trained pooches do make for good press releases, letting everyone know that something is being done about this horrible scourge of bit copying.
  • Re:Workaround (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @07:53PM (#18397291) Journal

    So how long until they start forcing you to (re)format the "empty" drive?

  • by j-pimp ( 177072 ) <> on Sunday March 18, 2007 @08:42PM (#18397563) Homepage Journal

    Well, at least the dogs should not get addicted to plastics, like the drug sniffing dogs...

    I know you're joking, but this comment is also in response to the "Won't dogs get cancer sniffing chemicals?" question. The dogs take in the same amount of particles no matter what they trained to detect. Imagine them like a vacuum cleaner that picks up every scent that every bag gives off. They are trained to notice certain smells, but they inhale everything equally. Bomb sniffing dogs were inhaling drugs long before they were trained to detect them, and both drug and bomb dogs have been inhaling these chemicals since they were put in action.

    So are veterinarians on Slashdot able to answer this? In general, do airport dogs, or any other group of law enforcement trained scent finding dogs, tend to get different sicknesses than the general population of dogs of the same breed? I would think that state and municipal dogs tend to get more variety in their environment. Howerver, dogs assigned to railroad and airport security details tend to breath air from the same mostly closed system day in and day out. If they tend to get lung cancer or other diseases, it might indicate airports and train stations are not healthy places to work either.

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