Utah sheriff's office mourns death of electronic storage detection K-9

The 7-year-old dog “bounced through two different animal shelters and one foster home" before being trained as one of four ESD K-9s in the U.S.


By Daniella Segura
The Charlotte Observer

OGDEN, Utah — A “porn-sniffing dog” named URL died after years of busting criminals in Utah, officials said.

URL, who retired about a year ago, died at the age of 7 on Dec. 30, according to a Jan. 5 Facebook post from the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. The black American Labrador Retriever lived with his handler Detective Cameron Hartman.

URL was the fourth dog in the nation to be trained as an Electronic Storage Detection Canine, the sheriff’s office said. Such dogs “are trained to find hidden thumb drives and cell phones that human investigators routinely miss,” according to a 2016 article from TechRepublic.

“Rather than being awarded with ‘play’ or a toy, ESDK9’s are rewarded with their food. This technique utilizes the dog’s natural sense, urge, of hunger to drive them to find what they’re trained to locate, in this scenario electronics,” the sheriff’s office said.

With Hartman, the canine executed hundreds of “search warrants obtaining countless pieces of digital evidence leading to the arrests and prosecution of many offenders,” the sheriff’s office said.

“URL had a success rate of approximately 22% in all of his search warrants which resulted in URL recovering dozens of critical pieces of digital evidence that would have otherwise been overlooked and even misplaced by task force agents,” according to a Utah Attorney General’s Office article dedicated to the canine.

From ‘pound puppy’ to police canine

Prior to being trained as an ESDK9, URL was a “pound puppy,” the sheriff’s office said. In his early life, he “bounced through two different animal shelters and one foster home.”

He was initially deemed as untrainable, the sheriff’s office said. Nonetheless, the Central Indiana Labrador Rescue and Adoption intervened after recognizing “URL’s unique talents and drive.”

“Through their efforts, URL made his way into training to become a very unique police service dog,” the sheriff’s office said.

After being trained as a ESDK9, he was “purchased and trained as part of a joint operation between the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force,” the post said.

This team helped various law enforcement agencies, including crimes against children and child exploitation task forces, the sheriff’s office said.

The pup’s unique nickname, “The Porn-Sniffing Dog,” garnered him both national and international attention, with him being featured in numerous media stories, including the The Washington Post and The Daily Mail, according to the sheriffs’ office.

“Thank you, URL, for trusting me, for working so hard, for loving me unconditionally, and for being part of my family,” Hartman wrote. “You were always there for me as I benefited from your talent in helping to catch some of the wolves that live among us. I don’t take any of the time you gave me for granted.”

Weber County is about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City.

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