(FOX19) - It appears that the Ohio State Highway Patrol's use of dogs to sniff out drugs is working.
Drug seizures have increased dramatically in just the last year, and the patrol says these specially trained dogs are a big reason. The number of dogs alerting patrol handlers to drugs has about doubled from 10 years ago to now having 32 dogs on duty.
"That dog, he's a tool for us. He's that one extra piece to that puzzle that might help us get those dogs off the street," says Trooper Cristian Perrin, who works with one of the canines.
His dog is a 2 ½ year old named Rambo. Using just his nose this past Saturday, troopers seized 2 kilos of heroin worth $300 thousand on the streets coming from Chicago headed to Cincinnati.
"Lately, we've been seeing an influx in drug trafficking. That's why the Highway Patrol is putting more dogs on the road," says Perrin.
FOX19 got a firsthand look at exactly what these dogs do. Tpr. Perrin brought Rambo out of his cruiser to search a car where he had stashed drugs for demonstration. It took the dog less than a minute to locate the crack hidden inside a door of the car.
"During training and everything, they play with toys that have the odor of certain narcotics, and they get used to playing with that odor. So when he's sniffing around the car, he's, in fact, looking for his toy," Perrin said.
Rambo has extensive training.
After coming from the Netherlands, he trained for about 11 weeks. It's efforts like this that police say are sending a big message.
"I think it sends an overwhelming message to criminals and drug traffickers coming through Ohio that we're out here, and we're looking," Perrin tells FOX19.
Perrin says though drug seizures are up and down, he knows of officers finding maps in cars that have been stopped that deliberately mark routes to avoid Ohio by some of these drug smugglers.