A police dog sniffed out the thumb drive allegedly containing Jared Fogel’s child porn

Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogel’s downfall began when a 2-year-old black Labrador sniffed out a hidden thumb drive that allegedly contained child pornography.

Fogel pled guilty last week to possessing child pornography and paying for sex with minors.

The dog, named Bear, is apparently a rare specimen: there are only five dogs in the country that can smell electronic storage devices the way drug dogs can find cocaine.

But Bear is not the first of his kind.

Last year, a police dog named Thoreau found a thumb drive containing child-abuse material hidden at a suspect’s home in Rhode Island.

Bear and Thoreau underwent extensive months-long training, and both found their targets after humans had failed. Thoreau found his target electronic device hidden in a tin box that itself was hidden in a metal filing cabinet.

These dogs are capable of sniffing out microscopic data cards as big as a fingernail.

Connecticut State Police spokesperson Lieutenant J. Paul Vance said that the program that taught Thoreau has proven effective. 

‟We have a very active computer crimes investigative unit,” Vance said. “The unit is extremely busy and gets busier as time marches on.”

‟One of the tasks they’re responsible for is assisting with the seizing of computers and computer parts at the scenes of crimes, from child pornography to narcotics. A lot of times, the criminal element will try to hide hard drives or electronics that contain information that would be pertinent to the investigation. Hence the idea to attempt to train animals was born and has, in fact, materialized and expanded.”

Dogs that undergo this training have been sniffing out digital media for a decade. In 2006, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) used two black Labs to detect counterfeit discs being smuggled into the country.

The MPAA claimed that the dogs worked so well that a group of Malaysian digital pirates posted a reward for their murder.

Worry not, dog lovers: The black Labs lived to sniff another disc—the supposed hit was never verified—and the legion of dogs sniffing out electronic devices continues to grow.

H/T NBC News | Photo via Svadlilfari/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.