Cell Phone-Sniffing Dog Hard at Work at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

Cell Phone-Sniffing Dog Hard at Work at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility

In 2012, correctional officers at the prison pulled out 77 cell phones. Last year, it was up to nearly 200. So enter K-9 Dixie...the dog with a nose for phones. She's also visited the prison in Putnamville and found a phone. Carlisle is one of two prisons in Indiana in this program, but officials want implement it in facilities statewide.
Cell phones -- they've changed the way we live. 

But in the hands of prison inmates, they become a dangerous tool. So the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility added a new weapon to sniff out the danger.

NBC 2's Kellie Bartoli went behind bars for an inside look.

In  2012, correctional officers at the prison pulled out 77 cell phones. Last year, it was up to nearly 200.

So enter K-9 Dixie...the dog with a nose for phones.


"Helps her drive to go and search."

This dog -- just 16-months old -- is already proving her worth at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

Dixie has just one mission everyday: sniffing out cell phones.         

Yes...sniffing. But how?

"There's not really a for sure answer on that. Dogs, they pick out everything in scents. I like to use the 'pizza; example. A dog smells pizza, she picks a part every ingredient. We just smell pizza," explains corrections officer and K-9 handler Jarod Collenbaugh.

Trafficking cell phones into prison pose a big threat, from officer safety to communicating to anyone on the outside. And it's a problem that continues to grow.

"It's a big deal. I mean, it can turn into something really serious," said Collenbaugh.

Dixie smells her way through jail cells in minutes, and if something pops up, other officers step in.

We even hid a phone - and it only took seconds before Dixie said something's up.
   
That's why in just a few months on the job, this pup's presence is quickly changing the mindset among the prison population.

"Listen around, and a lot of the offenders, they do know what she's here for... and I have a feeling that's stopped a lot," said Collenbaugh.

Dixie and Handler Collenbaugh went through an intensive eight-week training on top of K-9 classes.    

So far, she's pulled one phone and one battery from the offender population - one less that officers need to worry about.

"Just because we're not pulling cell phones out of here left and right...we do our purpose. We stop the phones, or at least slow the phones coming in," said Collenbaugh. "I already like we've made a difference." 

At the Carlisle facility, dogs only work one area, including aggression, tobacco, narcotics and trailing.

Dixie is the first -- and only --  phone detecting dog there.

She's also visited the prison in Putnamville and found a phone.

Carlisle is one of two state prisons in Indiana in this program, but officials want implement it in facilities statewide.
   
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