MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Electronic storage detection (ESD) dogs are new weapons in the fight against several electronic crimes.

Dogs from across the state and country train in Mount Pleasant to find items such as small thumb drives, hard drives, micro-SD cards, and more. This end-of-the-week training day was aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown for dogs and their handlers searching room to room after a long week of intensive recertifications and training.

Less than 100 canines in the country are certified to do this unique work.

Kerry Halligan, the owner and head trainer of Matrix K9, primarily trains ESDs who are capable of finding anything that can hold or transmit digital media.

“We have a chemist that was on board that was able to isolate the polymer that’s only known to coat devices that hold and transmit digital media, and that’s simply what we imprint the dogs on,” said Halligan. “So that’s what they’re finding similar to narcotics and explosives; they’re just looking for a chemical, and they’re rewarded for doing it.”

Most ESD dogs are labs that love to eat, so when they find the evidence, they are rewarded with food.

The canines and their handlers have a very special bond, being with each other 24/7, and the dogs are considered an extension of their handlers’ families. The dogs are considered heroes.

Some experts say that ESD dogs could be used to detect digital evidence in homicide investigations, drug deals, and even counter-terrorism.

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