Drug-busting dogs to sniff out school offenders

2008-05-20 00:00

PUPILS who take drugs to school, be warned: a new drug-busting initiative has just arrived on the scene.

Bruce Braithwaite from Howick has just opened a company called Drugdogz, which he runs with his two American Labrador drug-sniffing dogs.

Braithwaite had been considering the idea with the government since 2001.

He has already secured contracts with 19 schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, three of which are private schools in Pietermaritzburg and nine schools in Chatsworth and Phoenix in Durban.

The dogs, Buford and Ranger, who are both two years old, are not fierce, said Braithwaite, but they get the job done and will sniff out illegal substances in pupils’ bags and pockets.

“It is all about helping pupils out of their drug habits, which is ultimately a deterrent to drug lords. We are preventing the drugs from coming into schools,” said Braithwaite.

Braithwaite bought the dogs from North Carolina in the U.S. for R70 000 each, and they arrived in the country last month. It cost him R23 000 to fly them as well as an additional R8 000 for VAT permits in the U.S.

Braithwaite, who has just resigned from a job that earned him R40 000 a month, only charges the schools between R200 and R700 a month. He conducts random searches at these schools once a month.

There are pupils who might be clever enough to get rid of the drugs as soon as they see him entering the school with his dogs, but Braithwaite said this will not help them to evade detection, as Buford and Ranger can smell that a person has had possession of the drug up to 72 hours later, even after the drug has long been thrown away.

“I cannot be accused of invading pupils’ privacy, because there is no physical contact. The dogs do not touch pupils or their property. The air between the dog and pupils or their bags does not belong to anyone.

“I do not arrest pupils or go into the school carrying guns. After discovering drugs, I refer the suspect to the principal, who then takes the matter further. I have conducted research with the public prosecutor and found that there is no legislation preventing me from doing the job,” said Braithwaite.

Drugdogz has been welcomed by the KZN Parent Association, whose chairman, Sayed Rajack, said it is high time action is taken against the serious drug problem in schools.

To get hold of Drugdogz, schools can call Braithwaite on 079 8869 226 or through drugdogz@gmail.com. According to Braitwaite, 80% of drugs in the country, are sold in schools.

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