While other pups of her age may fill their days with playing at the park, going for walks, and snuggling down with their human families in front of the television, Iris the Labrador Retriever is rather special. At just eighteen months old, Iris is about to start her very first job, as a sniffer dog for the FBI.
Alongside state police departments, the FBI has used sniffer dogs for a long time now, searching out drugs, weapons, and contraband. However, Iris has just started her job as the agency’s very first electronic detection K-9, working to uncover hidden USB devices, hard drives, and similar storage equipment in search of child pornography, or documents and detonators linked to terrorism.
How does it work? During the process of making such electronic storage devices, a particular chemical is used in order to cool the memory chips used within; it’s this chemical that the new puppy agent is sniffing for.
Iris’s handler, FBI Agent Jeffrey Calandra, explains her training: “She went into four weeks of imprinting class with them, where they basically just had her every day and imprinted her on the scent. That chemical is unique to thumb drives, hard drives, really anything that’s electronic that can store memory.”
As soon as the FBI has probable cause, and has gained a warrant, Iris is sent in to sniff out any devices that may have been hidden by perpetrators, alerting Agent Calandra in the same way that any other sniffer dog would.
When she’s not on duty, Iris is like any other dog her age. “She loves to play, she has a great personality but when it’s time to work, she loves to work – she gets fed when she works,” laughs Agent Calandra.
A dog after our own heart!