Many parents are hiring private businesses that bring drug-sniffing dogs to search kids’ rooms and either put parents’ minds at ease or confirm their worst fears, NPR reports. “When we first launched … it went basically viral overnight,” says Anne Wills, owner of Dogs Finding Drugs, one of the first to get into the business a few years ago. Wills says she takes calls from schools, businesses, halfway houses, landlords, ex-husbands or wives involved in divorce or custody cases, as well as parents.
“I think this crosses a line,” says American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert Jay Stanley. Dogs can be used to sniff a lot more than just illegal drugs, and anyone’s privacy could be invaded. While the Constitution protects against unwarranted police searches, Stanley says, there’s no such protection against nosy neighbors, and the law has some catching up to do. Law enforcement officials have their own concerns. Jim Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police worries that a dog handler could inadvertently walk into the middle of an ongoing criminal investigation, putting the whole thing and possibly lives at risk. “We don’t seek this kind of assistance,” Pasco says. “We believe that some things are best left to police to ensure the best possible result.”