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Drug sniffing dogs to visit OUHSD schools By Rick Longley/Education Writer
Students in the Oroville Union High School District will need to be careful about bringing drugs, alcohol or firearms on its campuses next fall.
That's because the district has entered into a contract with Interquest Detection Canines to have its Labrador retrievers sniff out unwanted contraband on school grounds. OUHSD Trustees approved a contract on May 18th for the firm to perform about 54 random visits to various schools during the 2005/2006 school at a cost of $300 per visit. Total cost of the contract is about $16,200. The service also qualifies for federal and state safety grant funding, officials said.
Owners Terry and Mae Bogue brought their dog "Indy" to the April 20 board meeting for a discussion about how their company works. Their Labrador didn't put on a true demonstration at that time, but she did accept pats and well wishes from people in the audience.
OUHSD Superintendent Rick Landess noted in April the school principals had expressed interest in the idea depending on whether they could find the money within their school safety budgets.
The Bogues said "Indy" was trained to sniff out drugs, alcohol, gun powder and related contraband inside student backpacks, lockers and vehicles in the parking lot.
Interquest Detection Canines performs this service at schools in Yuba City, Chico, Gridley and as far north as Redding.
Terry Bogue said their dogs work to keep these substances off school grounds and serve as a reminder to students not to bring them on campus.
Bogue's dogs can detect methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy, and even prescription medications that might be used illegally, he said. In addition, they detect gunpowder, firecrackers and similar weapons. They also smell alcoholic beverages.
However, the canines don't "alert" to tobacco since traces of that are everywhere, Bogue said.
The Bogues always hold an assembly for students at the start of the school year to show them how the dogs work and what the routine is if something is detected.
Bogue said the dogs come to a campus randomly and unannounced to sniff vehicles, lockers and even backpacks and desks in the classroom.
He added other school districts where his company has worked have seen a drop in student expulsions and a reduction in contraband at campuses in Yuba City, Willows, Live Oak and Chico.
"The only thing she (Indy) doesn't sniff for contraband is a person," Bogue said. "It's a privacy thing. The only thing she'll sniff on the kids is the dog and cat at home."
If the dog finds evidence, it is collected and bagged in cooperation with school and law enforcement officials, and a report is made since Bogue's team is an agent for the district.
Discipline of students is in control of the district, he said, and his firm works regularly with law enforcement.
Students are always present when an inspection is made of their property, and a teacher or school administrator is there the whole time, Bogue said.
If no contraband is found, and it's only residue, there is no penalty. The dog is a "passive" alert dog which means she signals a detection without a lot of action.
Bogue recommended visiting campuses twice a month or 20 times a during the school year. His company can contract to do proms and field trip inspections as well.
District officials said the contract submitted for approval on May 18th had cut some of the visits down to make it more affordable.
Landess also said students will be given plenty of notice about the drug detection dog program before it is implemented in August and September.