Cats are juxtaposed to drug sniffing dogs. It’s an unfair juxtaposition. The cat is the internet’s favorite animal. The internet has it all wrong about cats. Caturday has given way to Sundog.
How did cats and drug sniffing dogs come out of a conversation about encrypted chat messaging? Sometimes one conversation morphs into another. On one of the legal listserves I post to, there was a discussion of the messaging app known as What’s App. What’s App has end-to-end encryption. It used to be secure – somewhat, as it had sever major security breaches since its launch – but it was mostly secure. But it will now be sharing data with FaceBook and that is the end of that app. It is useless. There are some great encrypted apps out there: Wickr, Confide, Telegram and so forth. There are also good email services that are free and secure.
Then the conversation turned around. We pick up with the last line of my statement on What’s App (I’m dog lover):
Dog lover (after a long What’s App thread): Avoid What’s App unless you want to send pictures of your cat to your friend in Indonesia for free.
Cat Lover 1: Thanks for the warning. I killed my cat as a result.
Dog lover: As a result or as a precaution? Cats are total snitches.
Cat lover 1: Both
Cat lover 2: So, it appears we may have a catophobe amongst us! I vehemently take umbrage with this unprovoked, uncalled for, and unenlightened attack on our feline friends. It is dogs we need to worry about. A dog will sell you out for a milkbone. And did you ever have to follow a cat around picking up its poop in a bag? Ggggrrrrrrrrrrr!
Cat lover 1: Not Catophobe. Cataract.
Truth is I do like cats except for one little Siamese. During my first year of law school (shortly after the Civil War) I lived in Berkeley with my then wife. We had a nice house trained cat who used a cat box or went outside. Then a friend, going away for a month, asked us to take his Siamese. Turns out that it was either not housebroken or like most Siamese didn’t give a damn about courtesy. It taught our cat to ignore the smelly cat box and feel free to poop or pee in our apartment. I could never catch them mid-stream, so to speak.
One day I returned home from law school, depressed, angry and tired as on most days.
There was a pile of cat pee and nearby sat the Siamese preening itself. I picked it up, kicked open the screen door, and put it in the yard – suffering a badly scratched up hand for my trouble. Before the door swung shut the cat flew through the door back into the house. I stood there in amazement before I went looking for the cat who, in the interim, jumped on our bed and was just finished peeing on my pillow and flew out the door past me. I never bothered the cat again and as soon as its owner returned and took the evil Siamese away, we re-taught our cat the joy of the cat box.
Cat lover 2: And I never had a client get busted because of a cat sniff!
Cat lover 1: That’s right. A dog will do worse than snitch you out for drugs. He’ll do much worse. He’ll pretend he smells drugs so his friend and master can search and give him a doggie treat. Can you imagine selling someone out for a doggie treat and they get 20 years. Sit. Good dog. Stay. Sniff and point. Good boy. OK my apologies to the cats of the world. Here kitty. Owwww you scratched me.
A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to and works at using its senses (almost always the sense of smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, or blood. Hunting dogs that search for game and search dogs that search for missing humans are generally not considered detection dogs. There is some overlap, as in the case of cadaver dogs, trained to search for human remains. Some police dogs that are used in drug raids are trained not only to locate narcotics, but also persons who may be hiding from the police, as well as stashed currency. Some detector dogs can locate contraband electronics, such as illicit mobile phones in prisons.
Their use has been criticized as allowing the police to conduct searches without cause, in a manner that is unregulated. They have been criticized as a form of show-policing, motivated more by the state’s desire to be seen to be doing something than any serious attempt to respond to the dangers of drug use.
In the United States, Narcotic Detection dogs had to become court qualified prior to their talents becoming admissible in a court of law.
In 2011, the Chicago Tribune reviewed the traffic stop data from Chicago-area police departments, and found that “false alerts” were strongly biased against Hispanic suspects. For example, in Naperville, Illinois, an average of 47% of all positive detection dog alerts resulted in subsequent discovery of narcotic drugs or drug paraphernalia. Looking specifically at Hispanic suspects, however, only 8% of the dogs’ positive alerts resulted in similarly fruitful searches. The report concedes that some – but not all – of this disparity can be attributed to “residual odors”, which linger even after contraband is removed from the vehicle. But given that the dogs themselves harbor no racial bias, the Tribune concludes that the dogs’ response is influenced by the biases and behaviors of their handlers. Further still, the report points to the fact that very few states have mandatory training, testing or certification standards.
In June 2012, three Nevada Highway Patrol officers filed suit against Nevada’s Director of Public Safety, alleging that he destroyed the police dog program by intentionally training canines to be “trick ponies” – to falsely alert based on cues from their handlers – so as to enable officers to conduct illegal searches of vehicles. The lawsuit claims that in so doing, he and other top Highway Patrol officers had violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.