“Detection Canines” visited the Esperanza High School campus on November 15, 2019 as a part of PYLUSD’s program to take “every reasonable precaution to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and employees,” according to Richard Mc Alindin, Executive Director, of Instructional Support. PYLUSD has approved the use of trained dogs from the Interquest Detection Canine Inc. to search for illicit substances among the students.
According to an interview with Matador Messenger, Richard McAlindin explained that school-wide assemblies were held in October to introduce the new system which will be utilized at high schools throughout the district.
Safety is PYLUSD’s number one priority according to Richard McAlindin. The use of detection canines is one tool in the effort to combat the recent increase in teenage vaping and substance use amongst students.
Interquest Detection Canine Inc. uses family-friendly dog breeds including Golden and Labrador retrievers. In an interview with the Matador Messenger, Debbie Farmer, the president of the Interquest Detection Canines Inc., stated “The last thing we want to do is make anyone feel uncomfortable or afraid when our dog teams arrive at school. It is important for students to feel safe and see that our dogs are friendly and understand that their “job” is just a fun game for them.”
During the campus visits, if any unwanted contraband is found then it up to the District to decide what the consequences are based upon the school’s Code of Conduct, according to Debbie Farmer. If for any reason a student is unwilling to let the dogs inspect an article in which they are interested, the campus administrator will step in and take disciplinary action.
According to the Interquest Canine website, the company “utilizes friendly dogs that have been trained to detect a wide variety of contraband substances”, including the following :
Commonly abused medications
The process of searching student backpacks and belongings by canines is designed to be “non-confrontational .” “The dogs are trained to produce a final passive response by sitting when they detect a trained odor. This ensures they will not damage property, thereby limiting any potential liability to articles inspected,” the company explains. “All dog and handler teams are certified.No lockdowns are required during inspections. Our dogs are trained to work throughout daily activities.”
By having this program, the district hopes to deter unwanted contraband on campus and to provide a safe atmosphere for learning, according to Richard McAlindin.