Amarillo, TX - "Sniffing dogs" in our area have helped law enforcement in our area searches for years.
Narcotic-sniffing dogs are rather common among most departments, but some are using their noses to find more than the typical items.
He's a dog for the age of electronics. Simon the black Labrador is the only K-9 in the panhandle of his kind. While he does have the ability to sniff for narcotics, he has an added talent. Simon smells for electronics.
"On the cell phones, they spray a chemical inside of them, and that's what they look for," says Sgt. Region 5 Narcotics Jerry Wilton.
"This is a great asset for us in this region," says Neal Unit Warden Jamie Baker. "He travels region-wide for us. He goes all the way from Dalhart to Wichita Falls, down to Colorado City, so he encompasses this whole region running the dogs and helping us with contraband control."
Simon has worked with the Neal Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for six years and according to Wilton, he is very good at his job.
"We probably find 2 or 3 cellphones in a month. It's been real beneficial," says Wilton. "It's something I don't have to climb up in rafters and look for and he can find them that way."
"They've been very beneficial for the whole system as a whole," says Baker. "They may not find a phone here but they may find phones on other facilities throughout the state."
Training to keep the K-9s sharp is an ongoing process. Simon and others take part in practice daily. While the need may be increasing, Baker tells us they do not foresee another dog like Simon making its way to our area any time soon.