An English Labrador Retriever named Willow is now proving her worth sniffing electronic storage devices to catch those who sexually exploit children through the internet.
The 2-year-old Willow and his handler Ron Burleson are assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in San Diego.
The Labrador looks for a distinct chemical compound used in cellphones, hard drives, and memory cards, which are often hidden by sex offenders and are challenging to find. Willow earns food as a reward every time she detects a device.
According to Burleson, there were 31 dogs to have undergone training as electronic detection dogs, including Willow, who is the first assigned to Southern California.
These electronic detection dogs have been utilized in high-profile cases such as the 2015 arrest of ex-Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle who was convicted on various charges, including child pornography.
A dog named Bear was able to sniff out thumb drives that contained illicit material at Fogle’s home.
Willow, whose costs of over $12,000 was shouldered by a grant from the San Diego Police Foundation, was originally training to be a service but had a “career change” to becoming an electronic detection dog.
But when not assigned to detect hidden devices, Willow helps in other ways, such as acting as a therapy dog to calm kids down when law enforcement officers serve search warrants at home where there are children.
She also doubles as an unofficial therapist in the task force, going from cubicle to cubicle, waiting for someone to play ball with him.
Law enforcement officers also realized that if they misplace their cellphones or other gadgets, Willow is there to help locate it for them.
In the following YouTube video by Tech Insider, watch how Labrador Retrievers from a police K-9 unit sniff out hidden electronics such a SD cards, computers, cameras, and cellphones: