FBI dog sniffs out hidden electronics
While at first she seems like a playful puppy at first, Iris the black lab is one hard worker. Iris is one of the FBI Newark Bureau's newest hires, and is specially trained to sniff out the chemicals in electronics.
She's one of just seven dogs who have been trained in a program run by Connecticut State Police that imprints the dogs on two chemicals found on electronic components: triphenylphosphine oxide (TPPO) and hydroxycyclohexl phenyl ketone (HPK).
Her handler, Special Agent Jeff Calandra, helped her show off her talents. She was able to find a USB pot attached to keys that was hidden in a car console, a tiny computer chip stashed near the gas tank of an SUV, and an SD card hidden in a wall board.
She's rewarded with food.
"When she seeks out a USB drive, she'll smell that chemical and say, if I find that chemical I'm going to get fed," explained Calandra.
Her expertise is key: Calandra says electronic evidence pops up in everything from investigations into counter terrorism, to crimes against children.
"I think she's invaluable, especially with how small digital media is and how easy it is to hide those kind of devices, every crime spans electronic media," Calandra said.
Criminals are savvy about where they hide small electronic components. Calandra showed us examples of fake water bottles, shaving creams and books that can hold tiny computer chips or USB ports.
"We search thoroughly, but if you take a micro SD card that's the size of a pinky nail and you hide that under the carpet or in the baseboard or heater--I don't care how well you search, aside from demolishing the house you're never going to find it, but she will," he said.
Iris has only been with the Bureau a couple of months, but has already assisted in multiple cases.
"In one investigation she located a USB drive in a staples box that was buried in the back of a cabinet," Calandra said.
As the only dog trained to sniff electronics working for the FBI, Iris will work on cases beyond New Jersey, wherever needed. And with her nose for sniffing out trouble, there's no doubt she has a long career ahead.