Dog to Sniff Out Illicit Phones in Prison

Murphy, a 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel begins work next month.

Posted: January 13, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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A jail in England says it’s becoming the first ever to have a dog devoted specifically to sniffing out illicit, hidden mobile phones that could be used to plot escapes, arrange for drugs to be smuggled in or intimidate court witnesses.

Murphy, a 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel goes to work full-time at the jail in Norwich, England, in February, jail officials revealed.

Murphy has undergone seven months of training in finding hidden cell phone handsets, and purportedly has been able to locate them even when they’re wrapped in plastic or concealed in wall cavities.

According to trainer Mel Barker, Murphy has learned to detect one particular scent out of 20 given off by mobile handsets.

For security reasons, the jail wouldn’t say exactly what scent he seeks out, but the dog’s nose is said to be sensitive enough to distinguish the smell of officers’ phones from others.

Murphy, who was given up by his original owner for being too boisterous, received most of his training at Norwich, but could be sent out to other area prisons.

Another Spaniel named George is already being trained with the aim of building up a team of dogs to cover every United Kingdom Prison Service region, according to prison officials.

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