Can bomb-sniffing dogs smell a pistol inside a car from outside?


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Richard.Howe
March 22, 2005, 10:03 PM
I work for a large multinational oil company with a particular distaste for gun-toting employees. The company policy is very clear; bring a gun onsite and get caught, and you're out the door. No questions asked, do not pass go, do not collect your pension.

We have recently begun having bomb-sniffing dogs run through the mail room and parking lot, post-911 don'cha know. If I forgot to take my (legally obtained and licensed) CCW out of the car one night, can a bomb-sniffing dog smell it from outside?

Let me be clear that this is only a question of curiosity. I have zero intent of carrying onsite. Please let me also be clear that I have no interest in discussing whether I ought to carry to work -- different question for a different thread, not here.

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TheOtherOne
March 22, 2005, 10:10 PM
I'm no expert, but I doubt it. From watching Cops :) (yeah, like I said, no expert) they always seem to have the car opened before the drug dog "hits" on anything and even then I wonder if the dog isn't just reacting so it can finally play with it's kong!

Still, even if it did hit on a car, does the company then have a right to break into the car (or make you open it) and search it?

patentnonsense
March 22, 2005, 10:13 PM
And does black pepper really help repel sniffers, or is that a myth?

(Surely there's no company policy against spilling a little black pepper on your floorboards every now and then??)

And some states are starting to forbid this sort of parking-lot tyranny, but I guess Louisiana must not be one yet.

Richard.Howe
March 22, 2005, 10:18 PM
Still, even if it did hit on a car, does the company then have a right to break into the car (or make you open it) and search it?

As with most companies with a similar policy, an initial condition of employment was permission to search my office and vehicle with no prior warning if "probable cause" indicated that a search was warranted.

Having said that -- ours is a litigious society -- and corporations are particularly hesitant to do anything that leaves them exposed. I'm saying that they aren't going to demand a search without a darn good reason.

There's not a civil court judge in the world that would question a right to do a search based on a K9 indication, especially if the employee agreed up front.

280PLUS
March 22, 2005, 10:23 PM
"And does black pepper really help repel sniffers, or is that a myth?"

What happens with pepper is that during the process of sniffing the dog sniffs pepper up it's nose which puts it immediately out of commission for a day or two. Handlers are usually not too happy when this happens.

:eek:

borderguy
March 22, 2005, 10:26 PM
Depends on the dog. We had a drug dog the once sniffed out cocaine hidden in a scuba bottle inside a full gas tank. Other dogs didn't do as well. I would be inclined to say a bomb dog would be able to find a gun in a car, especially of it had been fired recently. Remember , it's seeking the odors from the chemicals used in bomb making.

Pepper, Perfume and other scents have no effect on the dogs.

skwang
March 22, 2005, 11:01 PM
I don't know but it could be fun to put something that smells like a bomb component in or on a few (read all) the cars in the parking lot, could make checking the cars a real pain in the butt :neener: , though that could be a bad idea.

Logan

Bob F.
March 22, 2005, 11:09 PM
Saw "Gus", a drug sniffing Rottie, set up on numerous school lockers where nothing was found. Handler said kids toked up and wiped their hands on the gym towels that were in the lockers. "Gus" also hit on a locker where deputies finally found a cap pistol derringer. "Gus" went ape when the handler thumbed the hammer back.

Kinda like skwang's idea on corp property. A little fertilizer dissolved in water in a spray bottle...oh, never mind.
Bob

Roadkill Coyote
March 22, 2005, 11:16 PM
Well, the devils advocate would find out as follows...

The dog would trying to detect miniscule particles of propellent or burnt propellent in the air, indicating the POSSIBLE presence of a gun, not the gun itself. So, just take your car to the range, park appropriately, open the passenger side window, discharge a couple of mags safely into the berm from the drivers seat, and roll up the window. Drop the guns off at home, and go to work the next day. If they ask you to search your perfectly innocent, empty car, then you'd know...

Or you could just look for somewhere off site to park ;)

M67
March 22, 2005, 11:19 PM
There's not a civil court judge in the world that would question a right to do a search based on a K9 indication, especially if the employee agreed up front. In the world? That's a pretty big place. There is no way a private company could search my car where I live. If an employer were to suspect something illegal, such as drugs, or theft from the company, they could call the police. The police can carry out a search based on a search warrant or probable cause. My car is my private property, my employer can't touch it, no matter who owns the parking lot. It's even questionable whether my employer can legally read my private e-mail - stored on the company's computer at the workplace, sent during working hours.

But back to the topic.

I'm no expert on dogs, but I would be surprised if it can't smell a gun (solvents, powder residue) inside a car. I have a friend who used to breed blood hounds. He claims a good hound can track a person driving a car, as long as the window is rolled down.

Mal H
March 22, 2005, 11:34 PM
I think M67 is right. I also would be surprised if a well trained sniffer couldn't detect an uncleaned gun in a closed car. It would probably depend somewhat on the weather and temp differential inside and outside the car. No generally available car is leak proof.

I visited one of the largest dog training facilities on the east coast for a demo. In short, those dogs are nothing short of phenomenal. To see them in action is very impressive. They can detect a few micrograms of the substance they are trained to detect, whether it be drugs, bomb materials, gunpowder, etc.

As Bob F. implied, a good dog will give a lot of false positives, not because they made a mistake, but because something was there at some time or another even though it may not be physically present when they indicate on it. So, in truth, they rarely make a mistake. It is then up to their handlers to determine if a substance is still there in sufficient quantity to be a problem.

JohnKSa
March 23, 2005, 12:03 AM
I seem to recall reading somewhere that "gun sniffing" dogs are actually trained to detect the odor of gun oil. I have zero documentation for that--just throwing it out as hearsay.

LiquidTension
March 23, 2005, 12:11 AM
A friend of mine got in some trouble in high school when a dog detected the shotgun he had accidentally left in his truck one day. This is the same place that let him bring a shotgun to class for part of his senior project :rolleyes:

patentnonsense
March 23, 2005, 06:20 AM
As richard.howe said, with the usual consent to search in the employment contract you're not in a good position if the company cops decide you're suspicious. (Dog or no dog, I'd expect.)

In the long run, one approach to this sort of parking-lot tyranny would be to assert liability against companies who suppress lawful carry in the parking lot. Hypothetical: Joe X, who has a carry permit and is competent with his weapon and carries when he can, drives home from work, walks in on a burglar, and is shot and paralyzed. Expert testimony shows that a citizen with Joe's competence is far more likely to emerge safely from the encounter if he is carrying (as Joe usually does). Isn't this a reasonable case for liability?

Legislative proposal: An employer who prevents or limits employees from possession of lawful measures for personal defense, within the confines of their personal vehicles in employee parking areas, shall be liable for consequences of an employee's inability to use such measures which might otherwise have been available to the employee.

Anti-gun organizations would hate this, but in some states it might pass.

Distinguish: firearms outside the car are a different story, because of real safety concerns in some places (e.g. poisonous and explosive gasses), and some legitimate role for the employer in arbitrating the conflicting safety preferences of different employees.

cpileri
March 23, 2005, 08:36 AM
Another way to test it out, but would involve leaving your carry piece home for one day, is as follows:

Don a pair of latex or plastic gloves, and then proceed to clean your carry piece as usual.

Put the gloves in the trunk or safe or wherever you would store the pistol. If the dog can catch the residue of the cleaning products and powder on the gloves, he can do so on the piece as well.

You can try to use the 'invisible gun' non-scented products, or cover the area with perfume or whatever. Just do what you think yuo'd normally do, but lock up the gloves and a patch or 2 from the barrel to get some powder residue.

If you are willing to leave your piece home for a few days, you can use this technique to experiment until you do find what combination will thwart Fido.

All I know is that a chemical company I am familiar with has a fake scent kits designed for training these dogs, as well as rescue dogs, etc. They have fake cocaine scent, fake you-name-it scent. In particular, they have fake live body scent, fake dead body scent, and fake dead-for-a-week body scent and of a dog can pick up these scents UNDER 4 FEET OF SNOW then they can pick up scent through your trunk safe as well!
Best bet is to have NO SCENT for them to pick up.

C-

HankB
March 23, 2005, 08:45 AM
I like the idea of decoy scents . . . I'd think that if one were to make up a "tea" of something like Hoppe's #9, Outer's Gun Oil, and a double-base powder like Bullseye (containing both nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine) in a volatile carrier solvent like isopropanol, spraying it on tires - or even just around the parking lot - would befuddle Fido.

And when the company demanded that a LOT of employees open their cars - and nothing was found - backlash would set in.

But of course, that would be so WRONG . . . :evil:

444
March 23, 2005, 08:49 AM
That is also what I understand although I don't know much about the subject. I am basing this on the fact that I am a firefighter and our department has arson dogs. The dog handlers gave us a class in the academy and said that dogs smell things differently than humans. They smell component parts of things (for the lack of another way to put it). For example, if you and I smell pizza, we think: pizza. When a dog smells pizza, it smells tomato sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, etc. So, if you put black pepper around your car, the dog would smell black pepper, gasoline, oil, human, gun, cigarettes................
Our arson dogs scent stuff used to start fires like gasoline. The fact that walk into a burnt out building with smoke and steam still rising from the structure, they can easily detect gasoline or whatever: after that chemical has burned or not. I am sure that most houses have black pepper, perfume, cleaning supplies, etc in addition to the powerful smells associated with the fire. Doesn't bother the dog at all. It also doesn't bother the process that people keep things like gasoline in their houses normally. The investigator simply uses common sense to rule out arson even though the dog scents something. For example, the dog scents gasoline in the garage: that would be normal. The dog scents gasoline in the master bedroom, on the bottom of a pair of shoes: that would also be normal. Dog scents gasoline in multiple spots around the living room consistent with the burn patterns on the walls: you are in deep do-do.
Do you realize that there are dogs that find drowning victims underwater by scenting the air while riding in a boat ?
I once read a story about a kidnapping in Germany. The police found the getaway car several days or weeks after the fact. They laid a piece of cloth on the car seat for awile and then put the cloth in a glass jar. A couple years later they narrowed the case down to a couple suspects. They brought them in for a line up. They took out the piece of cloth, let a K9 smell it and the dog walked right over to the guy that did it: years later.
Another thing to keep in mind if the dog is being used by a police department or one of our arson dogs: those dogs are considered to be police officers. If you screw around and injure that dog, it is considered the same as if you had injured a human police officer and you will be punished accordingly. I would bet money that if you injured a dog owned by a private security company (or they say you did) you would be fired or possibly even sued for damages. I am all for personal freedom, gun ownership etc. Part of that freedom is the right to tell people what they can and cannot do on YOUR property as well as expecting that people who do not follow your rules on your property or people who damage your property to be punished.

answerguy
March 23, 2005, 09:05 AM
So, just take your car to the range, park appropriately, open the passenger side window, discharge a couple of mags safely into the berm from the drivers seat, and roll up the window. Drop the guns off at home, and go to work the next day. If they ask you to search your perfectly innocent, empty car, then you'd know...

Plus, with this tactic, you have the fun of re-assembling your car before you can go home. :)

41 Redhawk
March 23, 2005, 01:50 PM
I watched a special on TV one day about tracking dogs. There was a blood hound that was tracking the scent of a little girl locked in the truck of a car. He was tracking her on the interstate where the car had driven. He would track past an exit ramp then they would load him up and drive to the next exit ramp...until he tracked off the ramp and down a secondary road. They did this for hours until the handlers gave up...not the dog. The girl was eventually found a short distance from where they pulled the dog off.

The answer is a dog with a good nose would not have any difficulty smelling your gun.

Highland Ranger
March 23, 2005, 02:03 PM
My experiences with Labs (not the best breed for smelling) is that yes; they could smell it from outside the car.

Now if they are scenting on the propellent (powder) and the gun was clean . . . . not sure about that . . .

dev_null
March 23, 2005, 02:28 PM
Disclaimer: I would never harm a dog who was not an immanent threat to life and limb. I'm only asking as a reality-check on some scuttlebutt that went around when a previous employer (no, that's not why I left!) brought in a drug sniffing dog.

Anyway, the guys on the job were saying "just leave a puddle of antifreeze by your car -- the dogs can't resist drinking it, and it poisons them." Any truth to this? Urban legend?

- 0 -

Igloodude
March 23, 2005, 02:45 PM
I like the "fake scent" idea - if you can't make the target invisible, make lots of fake targets. Getting a little spray bottle full of Hoppes/powder/lead/whatever "perfume" and giving some cars a spritz, and perhaps even taking it in to work and spritzing the occasional chair or coat rack would do wonders. :D

TechBrute
March 23, 2005, 02:49 PM
There was an incident in Oklahoma where some employees were fired for firearms found in their car. The employer had a "no guns onsite" policy and used dogs. I'm currently searching for a link.

dev_null, antifreeze does poison dogs, however, they can resist drinking it if trained or monitored, just as you don't snatch the coffee from your coworkers' hands in the morning. Dogs can show restraint, just like humans.

Edited to add links to reference:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=113443
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=115333

firesafety3
March 23, 2005, 03:00 PM
I have actually witnessed this happen. Again, a major oil company in Louisiana. The drug, alcohol, and contraband policy was clearly stated and the company decided to lock the gates to the contractor parking lot and have the police dogs come in the "sniff" the vehicles.

One employee was in the process of moving and had all the normal stuff (blankets, clothes, matress, recliner, etc.) But he did have a .357 in the glove compartment and the dog did indeed pick up on it. He was brought to the vehicle to open it.

There's no doubt these dogs are good. In the same search, numerous vehicles were found to have drugs (or paraphenalia and traces of drugs).

I work as a safety professional for an industrial company and our policy and search procedures are very clear and a condition of employment. I could list all the incidents and screen failure percentages...but that another thread.

AirPower
March 23, 2005, 03:02 PM
Even if you clean the gun, I have a dog that go nuts on CLP. :D

TMM
March 23, 2005, 03:07 PM
a gun smells just like a car (steel, rubber, plasic). as i see it, any residue from gunpowder (or maybe cleaning agents??) the dog would pick up.

~TMM

TechBrute
March 23, 2005, 03:16 PM
a gun smells just like a car (steel, rubber, plasic). as i see it, any residue from gunpowder (or maybe cleaning agents??) the dog would pick up. Well, that's not really an issue as they are not banning the smell of such things, they are banning the presence of the actual gun.

TonkinTwentyMil
March 23, 2005, 03:19 PM
Patentnonsense has nailed this dead-on by referring to this invasion of privacy by politically-correct/anti-gun corporate lawyers as tyranny. Viewed in a practical sense, these policies simply do an end-run around (and over) the 2nd Amendment... and basic rights of self-defense AFTER you've departed the parking lot.

Accordingly, suspend any qualms about "fighting fire with fire" (at least until new state laws abolish this leftist bull****) via smart "monkey-wrenching" subterfuge.

Suggestions:

1. Stow your Car Gun and ammo in an air-tight Pelican case... and inside a second locking case, such as a good briefcase or tool-box.
2. Keep the gun VERY clean, and free of powder residues and excessive lubricants. This also applies to the storage case... and it requires frequent, more-than-casual cleaning, lubing, and airing-out.
3. Keep some opened/partially used , moderately "leaking" cans and jars of various common auto lubricants in your trunk or pick-up bed. If the dogs "find' this diversionary stuff, it's no big deal.
4. Occasionally spray one of your tires -- and OTHER nearby parked-cars' tires -- with O.C./peppergas. I love my dogs, too, but I've also had good results with O.C. against feral/attacking dogs. They generally hate the stuff. Be real discrete about this, and watch out for parking-lot surveillance cameras. Even at $15 a canister X monthly, this is a cheap investment in protecting your butt and your 2A rights. It's also a good use of old/expired O.C. canisters that need to be replaced, anyway. Besides, if you get "busted" for this, you can simply explain that -- since they disarmed you AND you *ahem* certainly wouldn't want to go against co. gun policy -- you've recently had to use O.C. on a would-be car thief... just when the co.'s progressive, "anti-violence" lawyers wern't around to protect you!

Others here might supply their expertise and imaginations to invent more refined ruses and diversions. Beyond that, I fully realize this approach is not "The High Road". However, The Great American Gun War has long been fought by the Anti-2A's playing cute political games, media-manipulation, and being "offsides"... without penalty.

So, until their self-righteous, underhanded games are blocked by the next round of pro-2A laws -- consider playing "offsides" selectively. If enough folks do this successfully, it'll frustrate "them", force more politicians to show their true colors, and hasten the anti-gun liberal crack-up.

TallPine
March 23, 2005, 03:24 PM
I would imagine that if a dog could smell a gun inside a car, then the dog could also smell a car that had previously (but not currently) had a gun inside it.

I guess the next step is employers banning their employees from owning or touching a gun on or off duty ... :(

Stand_Watie
March 23, 2005, 03:29 PM
Disclaimer: I would never harm a dog who was not an immanent threat to life and limb. I'm only asking as a reality-check on some scuttlebutt that went around when a previous employer (no, that's not why I left!) brought in a drug sniffing dog. Anyway, the guys on the job were saying "just leave a puddle of antifreeze by your car -- the dogs can't resist drinking it, and it poisons them." Any truth to this? Urban legend?

Antifreeze is sweet, and dogs, cats and small children (and even some stupid adults) will drink it. The ethylene glycol in it will wreck their liver and other organs and kill them. Ironically, part of the treatment for human ethylene glycol poisoning is giving the victim ethanol (grain alcohol) intravenously.

A dog that was properly trained and monitored by a handler wouldn't be drinking liquids off the ground though.

GRB
March 23, 2005, 03:46 PM
I am not advocating wehat I am about to write, it is purely hypothetical for its potential amusement possibilities: Just imagine if some were to go around the parking lot with some Hoppes in a spray bottle that also contained some gunpowder and oil. Then that person sprayed it on each and every of upper management's cars, somehow not getting caught by video camera surveillance. Or maybe this woulkd be done on one mamager's car per week, and done off the company lot. Think of the searches that would possibly ensue, and think of the things that might be found, let's say in a bosses trunk. When that double ended rubber thing with straps comes out, or the kiddie porn, or insider trading info is found, you can bet that the management will change its tune.

If no searches came about but you knew for a fact that the dogs had hit on manager's cars, you could always video tape the dogs alerting, then go to the union or otherwise pressure management, by offering to bring the video to the attention of the press, and I'd bet that those cars would then be searched or the policy dropped.

Of course, as I said up at the top of this post, this is all hypothetical and is offered only for its potential amusement qualities. I do not advocate anyone actually doing any of these things; and remember such a mixture of hoppes, gunpowder, and oil would likely be very flamable and thereby potentially dangerous. So think about it, think about the consequences if it jhappened, then laugh and foget about it. Do not do it.

stevelyn
March 23, 2005, 04:09 PM
Instead of going through all that trouble with spray bottles, pepper, dosing the wheels with pepper spray, just toss a box of spent brass inside the vehicle.

TonkinTwentyMil
March 23, 2005, 04:30 PM
Stevelyn, that idea may have merit as a diversion... initially.

However, it might also immediately label your car as belonging to a gun-owner. As such, that would probably beget an INTENSIFIED search of your car's contents. Not a good thing. Same deal for NRA decals, bumper-stickers, etc., all which scream "seach me". Better to stick "Save Vegetarian Gay Whales For Hillary" and "Expand Trial Lawyers' Welfare" bumper stickers on your iron steed.

I like the proposed idea (Bartley's?) about "planting" incriminating stuff in-and-around key co. execs' cars -- and secretly video-taping any subsequent searches.

Remember, any subterfuge actions discussed here are strictly to challenge corporate POLICIES -- not state or federal laws. And, it's those very same laws (which often fail to block/preempt such anti-2A company policies) that we must seek to change via legitimate political action.

mons meg
March 23, 2005, 05:55 PM
FWIW, last fall Oklahoma passed an amendment to our Self Defense Act which basically protects your right to leave your CCW in a locked vehicle on private company property. It was immediately challenged by several major corporations (those involved in the employee firings) and AFAIK, the law is still under an injunction pending outcome of the suit.

Any of my fellow red dirt runners hear any updates on this?

Bad Words
March 23, 2005, 06:02 PM
I live in Washington where we have ferries run from Seattle to the islands and peninsulas. They have bomb sniffing dogs that check cars, but not people. I have had the dogs sniffing around by me (not in my car) while I was carrying and the dogs didn't do anything. This has happened three times that I remember. They've also sniffed around my car but never detected anything. Maybe they could smell the gun or ammo, but they didn't alert their masters to it.

shermacman
March 23, 2005, 06:10 PM
I don't know but it could be fun to put something that smells like a bomb component in or on a few (read all) the cars in the parking lot, could make checking the cars a real pain in the butt , though that could be a bad idea.

Excellent first post, skwang! You will get along just fine here!

MillCreek
March 23, 2005, 09:17 PM
I live in Washington where we have ferries run from Seattle to the islands and peninsulas. They have bomb sniffing dogs that check cars, but not people. I have had the dogs sniffing around by me (not in my car) while I was carrying and the dogs didn't do anything. This has happened three times that I remember. They've also sniffed around my car but never detected anything. Maybe they could smell the gun or ammo, but they didn't alert their masters to it.

Ditto to the experience of this poster. I live in the Puget Sound area and take the ferries from time to time. This was a matter of some interest to me since immediately after 9/11, our State Patrol, who is in charge of ferry security, was talking about banning firearms on our state ferries. As an alternative, they proposed either stowing any firearms with the ferry captain (!) or you could just drive around the long way rather than ride the ferry. Many people pointed out that certain islands, such as Vashon and the San Juans, are accessible only by ferry. The Washington State Ferry system currently follows state law and does allow the carry of firearms with a CCW or unloaded and stored in the car.

DSRUPTV
March 24, 2005, 10:36 AM
1. Stow your Car Gun and ammo in an air-tight Pelican case... and inside a second locking case, such as a good briefcase or tool-box.

Wouldn't this kind of defeat the purpose of having a gun in your car anyways? It seems like it would take a long time to get to if the need arose.

444
March 24, 2005, 12:06 PM
Not to mention that it wouldn't hide anything from the dog either.

Horsesense
March 24, 2005, 01:17 PM
Why not ask to company to install driveup lockers for employees to store guns in, as they enter the property?
Get a record of your request and IF you had a video of a dog hitting on the cars of management and not being searched…. if you ever do get fired for having a gun in your car, or get shot on your way home, sue the company.

What dose the policy say about ammo? I would assume that dogs would hit on ammo.

Save up drippings from cleaning muzzle loaders and hang it from a tree that overhangs the road so it will drip on cars as they approach work. get a cheep holster and leave it in a place that it would be found and set back and enjoy the show.

Tinker
March 24, 2005, 01:32 PM
I don't know what they train gun sniffer dogs to find (powder residue, oils??) but I did see a program (TV) were a trained bloodhound was able to track a little girl who'd been abducted. If my memory is correct, he trail was 2-3 days old and the police had determined that the girl was abducted and put in the BG's car.

The dog not only picked up the trail at the abduction site, but also followed it for like 7 miles to the girl's remains. They'd figured that dog was picking up microscopic skin cells that had been left in the air. Kind of like tiny, faint bread crumbs. Now that is sensitive.

buzz_knox
March 24, 2005, 02:05 PM
While it's possible to train dogs to sniff out guns, the practical application of this might be limited. After all, if the dogs are being handled in and around armed officers, wouldn't they be keying off the cops as much as anything else?

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