ANAHEIM, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) has placed the 100th dog that has been specially trained to sniff out electronic devices during child sexual abuse investigations. Nyland is a yellow Labrador Retriever and will begin working with a K9 officer with the Parkersburg Police Department in West Virginia on child exploitation, child pornography and human trafficking cases.
To date, through generous donations, the anti-trafficking organization has funded 59 of the 100 dogs trained by Jordan Detection K9 in Indiana. Dogs provided by OUR have been placed in 28 states and Thailand. They have been used on 532 search warrants in the United States after initial searches by law enforcement officers.
OUR has been providing dogs to law enforcement agencies since 2018. In 2022, K9 searches by OUR-funded dogs have found hidden devices that officers missed 74% the first time, leading to 377 arrests and 82 survivors being rescued.
“The dogs are amazing,” said Tim Ballard, OUR Founder and Chairman. “Sometimes the only evidence that exists that a child might be getting hurt is on a cellphone, USB or microSD card hidden under the carpet and even in the water.”
The electronic storage-device (ESD) tracking dogs sniff out a chemical compound known as triphenylphosphine oxide (TPPO), which is found on digital devices. OUR grants cover training for the dog as well as expenses for the K9 handler to attend a two-week course.
“We select dogs with high energy and hunt drives,” said Todd Jordan, Jordan Detection K9 trainer and owner. “The partnership with OUR has been an incredible endeavor that has protected and saved the lives of many children.”
One of Many Successes
One case involving a dog named Chewie led to the rescue of a three-year-old child who was being sexually assaulted in Coachella Valley, California. The Riverside County Child Exploitation Team (RCCET), which is a multi-agency task force led by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, was investigating a man who had been chatting with an undercover agent and allegedly had 600 files of child sexual abuse material.
During the interview, the suspect admitted to sexually abusing the child. Chewie was able to find older cellphones and other electronic devices hidden in the garage. The devices contained videos of the child being abused as early as an infant.
“The child was saved and rescued from a lifetime of sexual abuse,” said Joel Pabelico, RCCET Senior Investigator and Chewie’s handler. “Chewie also interacted and played with the child while we were on scene.”
RCCET received Chewie in August 2020 and acquired another ESD-tracking dog named Solo through OUR in November 2022. Pabelico said the dogs are invaluable in finding evidence, saving time during searches and providing emotional support for the officers exposed to these heinous crimes. See the Instagram pages for Chewie and Solo at @K9_Chewie and @therealk9solo. Also, an OUR dog named Chip was involved in searches for the Vancouver, Washington, Police Department, recently passed away two days before his eighth birthday.
“The average sex offender will often offend against several victims before disclosures happen and they’re caught,” said JC Holt, OUR Director of Domestic Operations. “These monsters are out there finding more victims. By getting this key digital evidence needed to secure convictions, we are proactively saving people from becoming victims from the offenders committing these heinous crimes.”
OUR was founded in 2013 with former CIA and past and current law enforcement officers to end child slavery. The organization’s experts work in conjunction with law enforcement agencies around the world in anti-child trafficking efforts.
About Operation Underground Railroad
Operation Underground Railroad is a nonprofit organization that works with law enforcement around the world to extract children from slavery and then place survivors on a path to recovery by partnering with vetted aftercare providers. OUR will continue its rescue, aftercare and prevention programs, while leveraging research for new public and private support. For more information visit www.ourrescue.org.
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