Monday, April 30, 2012

Can Police Dogs Sniff Out Meth Residue???

How is a police dog trained to alert to drugs? The dogs couldn’t care less about the drugs themselves, they’re just searching for their favorite toy. Most dogs love to play tug-of-war with a towel. Trainers wash the towel so it has no scent to confuse the dogs and they play tug-of-war. Later the trainer rolls a bag of marijuana into the towel and the dog learns to associate that smell with their favorite toy. As the training progresses different drugs are rolled into the towel. The dogs’ keen sense of smell is invaluable in the war against drugs, but what about methamphetamine residue lurking unseen in the walls and carpeting?

Let me share with you the heart breaking story of one family in northern Indiana. They searched and searched and found the home they’d always wanted. They had all of the initial inspections performed, waded through the mounds of paperwork involved in purchasing a home and finally signed on the dotted line. Whew! They’d done it; they’d bought their new home. The family picked colors for different rooms and began to paint. Smiling faces covered with occasional streaks of paint, as they worked on their new home together; even redoing some of the wood flooring. Finally they moved in.

After being in their new home for only a week, they heard from the local police that they suspected the previous owner had been manufacturing meth at the home. Alarm bells chimed in the minds of the parents. What had they brought their children into; surely not a former meth lab? Police dogs were called in to sniff for drugs, but the dogs did not detect anything.

Feeling uncertain whether a police dog could detect meth residue contaminant in the walls and carpeting, especially since the police had discovered a suspicious burn pile in the back yard, they learned of Crisis Cleaning and decided to have their home tested. Lab results came back and even with the new painting on the walls and ceilings of their new home there were many rooms that tested positive for meth above Indiana’s threshold of 0.50 ug/100cm2. Now this family is living in a home that could potentially make them ill, unless they choose to have it decontaminated. But having a five bedroom home decontaminated is a huge expense.

So who is to blame? The realtor, did he or she know about the home’s history, the family for not ferreting out all of the facts, or the previous owner? Thankfully, for this family there is at least the hope of using their insurance and possibly even the previous owner’s insurance through ongoing liability, since they did not commit the illegal act themselves. All of this could have been avoided if meth testing were added to a home inspector’s list of things to be checked before a home is purchased. For only $59 plus the cost of shipping to a professional lab, the family could have known beforehand that the home they were thinking of purchasing had meth residue all throughout it. So much anguish could have been spared.

Oh, and back to the police drug sniffing dogs, they are great at what they do, finding packets of drugs, but we now know they cannot detect methamphetamine residue. It lurks, undetected, by humans and dogs. Demand a meth test as a condition of sale prior to purchasing a new home or prior to signing a rental lease.


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