Police dogs are trained to sniff out, drugs, explosives and to latch on human scent. But now, the K-9 division is even trained to sniff out hidden electronic items. A 2-year-old British Labrador named Sota was recently introduced in the state police of Minnesota, US to sniff out electronic items. The dog has a specialty– sniff data storage devices like smartphones, USB drives, microSD cards, hard drives, etc. The police wants to use K9- Sota to help them find evidence in sex crime where predators use gadgets to target women and children, as per a report by Star Tribune.
There are not many dogs around the world that can sniff electronics. While the US has over 30 dogs that are trained to sniff electronics, in other parts of the world, K-9 units are mostly trained to sniff drugs and explosives. Even in India, police dogs are most used to trace explosives and sometimes for narcotics.
So, what do the police dogs sniff in electronic items? As per the report, dogs can identify the chemical coating on memory storage chips called triphenylphosphine oxide.
“Criminals who exploit children often leave evidence on electronic storage devices. The same goes for perpetrators of other predatory crimes, as well as financial crimes and homicide. Because these devices are small and easy to hide, human agents can’t always find them. So they sweep the crime scene first, then send in Sota and her human partner to sniff out evidence they might have missed,” explained the Department of Public Safety in an official blog post.
Small items like chips, microSD cards, SIM cards among others can be easily hidden anywhere inside a suspect’s house. While it may not be humanly possible to find them, trained dogs can find them easily and save crucial time during an investigation.

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