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Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 2:35pm

Gun-Sniffing Dog Joins Savannah Police Force

Savannah police have a new tool for investigating gun crimes - a dog that can sniff out guns.

The two-year-old Dutch Shepherd, Ziggy, is specially trained to find materials like gunpowder and residue.

His trainer, Officer Mike Drayton, says the dog can help investigators find shell casings and other materials left behind after a gun is used.

"A lot of times they’re laid out in the grass and you’ve got to put people online and look for shells or find a metal detector to do it," Drayton says. "We just decided a dog could do it just as good."

Drayton says that evidence can be used to help solve crimes.

Police Sgt. Eric Dukarski is in charge of the K-9 unit. He says officers sometimes find guns in the reach of children.

"(Drug dealers) will have guns stashed around the corner or behind the house," he says. "So we do get a lot of guns off the street doing that, and we’ll be even more successful now that we have a gun dog."

Unlike with police K-9s trained to sniff for illegal narcotics, Dukarski says a dog alerting officers to the presence of a gun is not probable cause to search a vehicle.

Ziggy is one of seven dogs in the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police K-9 unit, but the only one trained to find firearms. He started working with officers late last month.