The canines form part of the Drug Detection Unit (DDU) and are based near Hakea Prison in Canning Vale, as well as regional areas.
‘A lot of their training takes place at the Hakea complex and at Casuarina Prison,’ a Corrective Services spokeswoman said.
‘There are 14 dog teams (dog and handler), but figures fluctuate.
‘The dogs, all labradors, are used in prisons but a large focus is on prison visitors. The DDU dogs have already made 12 drug finds on visitors this year.’
One of the dogs, Mojo, has been sourced from Victoria and is one of just a few Australia-wide that can detect the drug buprenorphine.
‘Recognising an increasing trend in the use of an opioid called buprenorphine, (the active ingredient of Subutex and Suboxone), which can be illegally used, the Department of Corrective Services has been training drug detection dog Mojo in its detection,’ the spokeswoman said.
‘Mojo has shown outstanding talent for detection, recently making his first find.’
Drug Detection Unit training co-ordinator David Stephens, who is Mojo’s trainer, is delighted with the result.
‘The drug is almost undetectable by the human nose, but Mojo has been trained to identify the smell using play as a reward,’ Mr Stephens said.
‘It’s all fun to them.’