back to article Utah sheriffs blow $10,000 on smut-sniffing Labrador

A sheriff’s department in Utah has spent $10,000 on black Labrador they say can sniff out porn and other illicit digital materials. The deployment of the black Lab, dubbed URL but pronounced Earl, in Weber County comes just months after Utah became the first state in the US to declare pornography a full-fledged public health …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge

    dubbed URL but pronounced Earl

    well, it would be, wouldn't it.

    Yee haw.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

      I wonder what the Internet smells like

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

        "I wonder what the Internet smells like"

        I always thought it'd smell like a bag of Haribo Starmix.

        But because of this article I'm glad to know I'm not the only stupid person thinking that the Internet could smell of anything.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

        They are in the process of collecting data from users with scratch-and-sniff screens.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

          sniffing out porn

          Fister with your tissues, you're never gonna die

          W*nking in the backroom, they busted tonight

          The blue suited soldiers, with the porn sniffin' hounds

          Come out of your nightmares and run you to the ground

          Run you to the ground, run you to the ground

          How many commentards are going to know that? About seven, I reckon.

      3. JLV

        >I wonder what the Internet smells like

        Ask Jen.

        1. Fungus Bob

          Re: >I wonder what the Internet smells like

          "Ask Jen."

          Don't be silly! The Internet doesn't *weigh* anything so it can't smell...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: >I wonder what the Internet smells like

            Neither do my -arts

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

        > I wonder what the Internet smells like

        Rape-scented candle?

        No, waait .... I misspoke. Ahhh, it's PC brigade at the door.

      5. Bluto Nash

        Re: sniffing out porn - or the devices that carry it

        I wonder what the Internet smells like

        Litterboxes and bacon.

    2. asdf

      Utah law enforcement

      Look on the bright side at least this Utah sheriff (AFAIK) isn't hunting down underage wives who have escaped the compound or exiling adolescent boys (ie the competition) like law enforcement do down there in Hilldale UT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utah law enforcement

        And that is what is most upsetting about this story: Utah cops being pulled away from these important jobs to sniff my junk.

      2. x 7

        Re: Utah law enforcement

        "hunting down underage wives who have escaped the compound or exiling adolescent boys"

        Sounds interesting. Got a link for that?

  2. msknight


    Searching flash drives without a warrant. Is that legal?

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: Ok...

      According to the source article, the police would obtain a warrant before sending the dog to a site in search of concealed storage devices.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ok...

      You don't understand "Probable Cause", USA style.

      1) You explicitly do not consent to a search.

      2) The police bring out a dog that has been trained to 'indicate' on command.

      3) The dog pretends to sniff around the outside, and then sits down upon subtle command.

      4) Now they have "Probable Cause" to search.

      It's best if you just carry $7500 cash for them to 'civil forfeiture' from you, as a distraction.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ok...

        It's not Utah, but...

        Generally, you better be prepared for some finger play!

        Teen Sues US Over Cavity Drug Search for Which She Was Billed $575

        What once were modest exceptions in Constitutional America morphed into a vast “Constitution-free zone.” The “border” is now a strip of land circling the country and extending 100 miles inland that includes two-thirds of the U.S. population. In this vast region, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can and conduct warrantless searches.

        (Obviously appropriate icon is obvious)

  3. tony72


    Perhaps they thought <a href=">pornhound</a>* features videos discovered by an actual pooch?

    *do I need to say NSFW?

    1. tony72

      Re: Confused?

      Excuse the missing " in that link. I had to post and run, and didn't preview. Maybe for the best in this case.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Confused?

        > post and run

        Say no more, say no more!

  4. msknight

    You know...

    At this rate, it sounds like URL would make a better job of running the Webber County Sheriff's department, than the current incumbent.

    1. Fungus Bob
      Thumb Up

      Re: You know...

      Look on the bright side, the Webber county sheriff's department has $10,000 less to spend on stupider stuff.

      What would be Stupider? I don't know but I'm sure they could sniff it out...

  5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    The sheriffs have reassured journalists that URL will picking up on odours unique to digital storage devices, and won’t be confused by other digital essentials such “remote controls or garage door openers”.

    Of course, they decline to provide specifics.

    The BS quotient of this press release seems awfully high.

    // NOT British Standard...the OTHER BS...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Flash memory in my phone?

    2. Warm Braw

      Odours unique to digital storage devices

      As opposed to the unique odours on their owners' digits?

  6. israel_hands

    "...the state’s no two-fisting rule is still enforced there"

    So the public health crisis caused by porn is so bad they've had to ban double-fisting? Never knew Mormons were such kinky fuckers.

    1. msknight

      Re: "...the state’s no two-fisting rule is still enforced there"

      I don't know about fisting... but it certainly sounds like the population is getting well shafted.

    2. Mark 85

      Re: "...the state’s no two-fisting rule is still enforced there"

      Never knew Mormons were such kinky fuckers.

      Indeed. I've known more than a few and they do know how to get wild and kinky. I've had to more than once mumble "WTF?" after being around them.

      The old joke about always invite two Mormons over to watch the game because if you only invite one, he'll drink all your beer and try to have his way with your dog is essentially true. Maybe not always the dog though.....

  7. Schultz


    They should not use Earl to search for USB porn, that's just slow and inefficient. Everybody gets their stuff from the Internets nowadays, so just start at the Telco and follow the data trail.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Inefficient


  8. chivo243 Silver badge

    two fisting

    As Hubert Farnsworth would say.... That's Ultra-Porn!

    1. msknight

      Re: two fisting

      The only thing going in the departments favour, is that they're fans of Futurama.

  9. computinghomer

    My name is Earl

    Never overlook the entertainment value provided by the good ole USA.

    1. fishbone

      Re: My name is Earl

      Remember the mormans went to utah to escape the laws of the United States, shows something about the level of thought and why it's a good place to be far from

  10. localzuk Silver badge

    What law?

    What law is broken by having smut on a memory stick?

    1. PacketPusher

      Re: What law?

      I don't think 'normal' porn is illegal, even in Utah, but child porn is. I suspect that is URL's primary target.

      1. kain preacher

        Re: What law?

        No obscene porn is defined by the community standards. So gay porn could land you in jail. Whats worse is the definition is set by were the user is at not were the porn is located. I know some that was done in this way. He had a dial up BBS in California. The called from Florida and since it was considered obscene in floridia he was extradited and convicted.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What law?

        I don't think 'normal' porn is illegal, even in Utah, but child porn is. I suspect that is URL's primary target.

        Child porn has a different smell than standard porn or even gay porn?

        I never knew!!

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: What law?

      Title 76 - Criminal Code, Chaper 10 - Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Welfare and Morals, Part 12.

      The production or distribution of pornography in any form, even just nudity, is a criminal offense in Utah.

      1. asdf

        Re: What law?

        And yet they celebrate their beloved home state gun maker John Browning like he was a saint. Guns are holy and boobies are the devil's work.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: What law?

          You have to say that, purely from an engineering view, they have a point about Browning.

          There aren't many engineers whose basic designs are so perfect and simple that, with minor changes, they are still the de facto standard in the field 100 years later.

          Regardless of what you think about guns, Browning was a ruddy genius.

          1. asdf

            Re: What law?

            Won't deny he was a genius at inventing new devices to kill people, I'm sorry the bad guys (and some for game) but more pointing out Utah's priorities and hypocrisy instead of bagging on him.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong breed.

      Two girls one pup?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong breed.

      64 Shades of gray

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wrong breed.

      A little earl-y for puns isn't it?

  12. jms222

    How does one sniff out porn exactly ?

    1. Sgt_Oddball

      Might it be better to smell out the result of porn?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who the fuck stores porn on flash drives? Methinks this dog will find naught but used condoms, jizzy kleenexes, and sex toys. the police cruiser.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Onanists beware!

        Guilty hands, guilty smells.

        Sir, I'm afraid your stick is covered with bodily fluids, I'm bringing you in,

      3. Fungus Bob

        Re: Might it be better to smell out the result of porn?

        NO! Step away from the man-gravy with your hands where we can see them!

    2. hplasm

      "How does one sniff out porn exactly ?"

      Check the hedgerows...

    3. John Tserkezis

      "How does one sniff out porn exactly ?"

      Look for the fishy smell.

  13. Sgt_Oddball

    That's a lot of different storage devices....

    So basically, they'll need to check the following;

    Memory Cards (SD,MicroSD,Flash,Memory stick, M2 etc etc)

    Memory sticks/thumb drives - including watches/penknives/various novelties

    Portable Hard Disks

    PC hard disks


    Zip drives (if you want to get retro)

    Tape Drives (LTO etc etc)

    Mobile phones

    Digital Picture Frames

    Tablet devices

    Pretty much anything that has a storage device of any kind (I could use my old HiFi amp to store stuff over FTP. Good luck finding the hidden menu and it's settings that allowed that to happen) .


    The whole internet (at least as far as connections go).

    Personally I think they've been sold a pup if they think said wonder dog can cover all of those bases, not to mention have the handler recognise just what it is that the dogs found.

    1. Fortycoats

      Re: That's a lot of different storage devices....

      Well, Zip Drives were invented in northern Utah (Roy). I wonder why.....

      This was before the days of USB or cheap CD writers.

      1. swarfega

        Re: That's a lot of different storage devices....

        Probably being used instead of stone tablets ;)

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: That's a lot of different storage devices....

      I remember a decade or two back there being such a thing as a Jazz drive...seems like an appropriate storage medium for such material

  14. Sureo

    "It seems a quiet kind of place"

    Now we know why.

  15. 404

    umm IoT?

    Poor dog - Utah cops just bought a pet Lab, considering IoT is pretty much here and everything will have some flash memory in it...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: umm IoT?

      Ha! I wonder if it's microchipped? Must be why it keeps smelling its own butt.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: umm IoT?

        For the win.

  16. Potemkine Silver badge

    Porn? Oh, horror!

    Porn viewing is a health crisis, but being able to buy Sig Sauer MCX or Glock 17 isn't, even if the latter right leads to the annihilation of around 33,000 people each year... go figure!

    Idiots are taking over.

    1. Alistair

      Re: Porn? Oh, horror!


      No, they are not taking over. They've been running the show for the last 30 years.

      1. Mark 85

        Re: Porn? Oh, horror!

        They've been running the show for the last 30 years.

        Only 30 years? Methinks you underestimate idiots.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Porn? Oh, horror!

          Idiots taking over?

          Better stock up on guns!

          (Note that I always stay out of gun-free zones. I don't like being the lowest rung in the food chain.)

    2. Oengus

      Re: Porn? Oh, horror!

      Idiots are taking over.

      The idiots took over years ago.


      It is all after the home of the Mormon Church.

  17. TRT Silver badge

    The dogs will probably...

    pick up on the sweating guilt stink of someone who knows exactly what they have on the 128Gb Micro-SD card sewn into the lining of their jacket collar

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TOP TIPS #53

    If you are concerned about a nosy pooch sniffing your dongle, then buy a cheap pen drive, crack it open, and start smearing every surface of your residence with the contents! Time consuming, yes, but once done you will be able to sit back and watch as K9 goes fucking nuts sniffing out your carpets, skirting boards and draught excluders.

    PS: If you have any priceless items (Faberge Eggs, etc) do not smear with decoy dongle!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: TOP TIPS #53

      Ah, so that is where the Youtube series "Will it Blend?" originated! Here was me thinking the reducing of electronic gizmos to dust was just a promotional series for a brand of food processor!

  19. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Bag of chips?

    So would the dog be able to tell the difference between a bag full of assorted logic chips, cpus etc, and a working USB drive?

    Did they train the dog on legacy storage devices (for "vintage porn"?) such as the old 8" floppy disk still somewhere in my office (granted, not much you can store in the way of smut on 128 kB and still store CP/M 2.0 on it).

    Can it detect bubble memory? Magnetic tapes? Punched cards?

    Enquiring minds need to know

    As an aside, my estimate is that you would need 228 metric tonnes of punched cards to store a DVD (smut-filled or otherwise) full of data, so that might be a tad inefficient.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bag of chips?

      >As an aside, my estimate is that you would need 228 metric tonnes of punched cards to store a DVD

      I was thinking that 228 tonnes would make a big flip book for naughty animations.... I went looking online (Rule 34), but all i found was this [car] porn for Subaru. Basically a mile long wall with image cells, the car is driven past and the door pillars act as shutters:

      Safe For Work link:

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Bag of chips?

      The Enfer of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France contains 2600 erotic and pornographic books dating from the 16th century to the present day. At an estimated weight of 800 g per tome this comes to 2 tonnes.

      Keep playing with your punched cards, or your DVD for that matter. Old books smell better than punched cards.

    3. swarfega

      Re: Bag of chips?

      Before you know it, he will be licking your Raspberry Pi

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bag of chips?

      "As an aside, my estimate is that you would need 228 metric tonnes of punched cards to store a DVD (smut-filled or otherwise) full of data, so that might be a tad inefficient."

      Never heard of ASCII Porn?

  20. Daedalus

    Divine idea

    Sounds like this guy would also be interested in using those divining rods to sniff out pr0n. Maybe somebody could get him running up and down Main St. with them.

    1. hplasm

      Re: Divine idea

      Most guys have a porn divining rod...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Divine idea

        ...but would it stand up in court?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Divine idea

      " using .... divining rods"

      But that's not science.

  21. Jim 43

    Jared Fogle (The 'Eat Fresh' Subway spokesman) had his child porn stash found (hidden in a wall if I remember correctly) by the same sort of dog. I remember being shocked by that at the time.

    It seems legit. Anyway, it's nothing that strong encryption can't solve.

    1. Fungus Bob

      Butt how do you encrypt a dog?

      1. Jim 43

        See any of the Star Trek series

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Butt how do you encrypt a dog?"

        Easy, with a blender. However decryption is a bitch!

        1. Kiwi


          "Butt how do you encrypt a dog?"

          Easy, with a blender.

          Dunno about the dogs, but I can think of a few owners I'd pay to see that done to.. Pay even more to try it for myself...

          However decryption is a bitch!

          So was my dog!

    2. Suricou Raven

      As a second layer, yes. But encryption has another issue: The police ask you to decrypt it. In the UK they can jail you for refusing to do so. They can't do that in the US, but your refusal will still look very damning in court and a jury will certainly take that into account.

      If you're really good you can use a truecrypt hidden volume. Put on a big show of not decrypting it, finally give in, and decrypt it to reveal your stash of weird-but-legal fetish porn. Now you have a plausible story as to why you had an encrypted drive hidden under the floorboardds.

  22. JLV

    What kinda porn constitutes the "public emergency"? Regular, legal stuff, which is watched in their opinion by way too many people? But is... legal?

    Or did they buy a 10k pooch to hunt for kiddie porn? Which is illegal but a bit like needle in a haystack for a dog-based approach because much less prevalent geographically.

    What if they search you, find a big stash of legal porn and the missus files for divorce? Can you sue them?

    Should be sued by their taxpayers for egregious waste.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      My money is on somebody found their huge stash of porn so they quickly came* up with the excuse that it was training material for the dog.

      * no pun intended, but retained because of infantile sense of humour

  23. Florida1920

    Call the baker

    We need a dog biscuit that looks like a flash drive. "Oh no! URL's eatin' the ev-ee-dence!"

    But what can you expect from the jello-eatin' capital of the WORLD?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Jello?

      Ah! That'll be smearing everything with preserves to mask the scent. Signal jamming for dogs.

  24. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge


    I'm reminded of a snippet in "Microserfs" by Douglas Coupland*, where the protagonist is musing on how everything kind of looks the same when digitised and broken down to a stream of ones and zeros. Digitise some top shelf smut and look at the patterns of 1s and many of those patterns would you also find in a digitised copy of, say, the Bible, Beethoven's 9th symphony, Constable's "The Haywain", etc.?

    * if you haven't read it then do so for 'tis excellent

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Binary

      But there's way too much information to decode the Matrix.

      You get used to it. I don't even see the code. ... All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead. Do you want a drink?

  25. SolidSquid

    I'm confused what this is even supposed to achieve, are they just looking for any flash drives and will the search them for porn? How exactly do they get a warrant for that, given the dog couldn't possibly sniff out just drives with porn, or specifically illegal porn? This just... what?

  26. John 104

    Cutest puppy picture. Ever.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in my university days the WWW was a newish thing but even so there was a filter on what you could search for using the university systems and somethings like porn were explicitly stated as banned. Now there was also an unfiltered internet connection but this was restricted both in use and need to know. I was doing research and needed to download what back then was considered large file sizes and complained that the student internet was too slow and I wasn't allowed to connect my Zip drive to store these files.

    I'm then given knowledge of and access to the special room that has the unfiltered faster internet and computers I'm allowed to hook my Zip Drive up to (using I think 100mb carts). I'm also given a warning that I must not download porn using it and that someone will have to examine the files I download, to check for this. In the same room is another student who has someone from the faculty sitting with them staring at the screen. After a brief chat she tells me that she is doing a project on Porn in the media and the staff member is there to make sure nothing illegal is downloaded or viewed. This was the Win95 era and video was via Real Media possibly Quicktime but not great quality and took an age to download. So she was mainly looking at and downloading pictures for inclusion in her dissertation to illustrate points (ooh er missus).

    After 15mins the staff member said she had to be somewhere else and repeated the no illegal stuff warning. Finishing what I'd come for I went to leave and asked the other student what she had found so far (in the interests of study you understand) and she showed me pictures ranging from tabloid style Page 3 stuff through to penetration (hard core) and was just about to start on the fetish stuff. I pointed out that hardcore was illegal in this country and she said yes she knew that - but the staff member who had been babysitting her thankfully didn't. My tutor was supposed to check my files but just said "I trust you didn't" and that was it.

    No smut searching dogs back then but I agree the puppy is so adorable.

  28. Grumble

    It's not April 1st is it?

    1. Kiwi

      It's not April 1st is it?

      It could be over there. Dem yanks are a wee bit behind.

      (Though it would be something like April 1st 1916 given how far behind some of em are!)

  29. Bottle_Cap

    Just send the PFY - can smell smut from the other side of the world!

  30. User McUser

    Burying the Lead

    The real news here is that if you have a dog and a gullible enough sheriff you too can have $10,000.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Burying the Lead

      I'd love to be in the gallery at the first trial in which this dog is used as the reason to introduce evidence.

      Because I don't believe for a minute that the dog could distinguish between a USB drive and a USB WiFi dongle, and I would ask the judge to allow me to prove that.

      However, the person that raised and "trained" the dog is now $10k richer.

      // my money's on "subtle command to sit"

  31. TheOtherHobbes

    On the Internet, everyone knows you're a dog.

  32. Christopher E. Stith

    funded by Darl McBride?

    SCO Group is based in Lindon, Utah. It's good to know as long as he's an idiot he's a tenacious idiot. Best make it probable cause to be searched by police to put an ISO of that infernal Linux onto a DVD or USB stick and carry it around.

  33. Dadmin

    True life factoids about police dogs

    If a police dog smells your junk, then licks it, you are free to go no matter what the human officer says or does.

    Drug sniffing police K-9 units are trained to smell drugs by offering them real drugs as a treat. The dogs are then super fucking high, and are unavoidably hooked and aggressively find their next fix.

    If a police dog tries to attack you, just release the hotdogs you are carrying in your pants. This will distract the canine copper just long enough for you to escape, or to pull out your phone and get some periscope or snapchatting content.

    Newborn K-9 Units are correctly referred to as Police Pups.

    Cats were tested for police work, but things didn't work out. Too indifferent.

    If you walk up to the human officer of a K-9 unit and say; "John Leeson" they must immediately reply with their favorite episode of the 4th incarnation of Doctor Who, and allow you to hold the leash. It is known.

  34. Proffesor Madhead

    That Dog Must Get Sinusitis all the time!

    yeah, wipe off all bodily fluids before passing smut police.

  35. Bloodbeastterror

    Oh for God's sake... there seriously no end to Americans' stupidity...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh for God's sake...

      " there seriously no end to Americans' stupidity...?"

      Ahh, come on.I mean come on.

      Sigh. I guess not.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Oh for God's sake...

      You forgot the /rhetorical tag.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gotta Be A Joke

    I find the premise itself - dogs sniffing out memory devices - unbelievable, in the sense that I just don't believe it. But I can believe that what passes for a public servant these days would buy it.

    I have to ask: what is the legal rationale for sniffing out objects, that in themselves, are perfectly legal?

  37. P 14

    Hang on

    Northern Utah, is not the ultra religious right wing place that you painted here, and southern Utah is beautiful but not the utopia described either. I live in Utah and SLC is a tiny blue dot of liberal thinking in a giant red state of conformity. Southern Utah is full of 3 toothed sister fucking welfare fraud polygamist with varying levels of normal folk mixed in. In northern Utah if you don't "belong" to the hive you get weird looks. In the south they will run you out of town unless you're "kin", and I mean like cousins, via any means. Geophysical properties aside its a hellhole.

    Oh its called the beehive state because of the shared mentality by the way. There are no more real bees (killer or otherwise) in particular to anywhere else on planet earth as far as I can tell.

    Yes, its fucking weird.

  38. Thaumaturge

    Here's a thought...

    Wow, wonder if I drove up there if they'd let the overpriced mutt have a shot at finding the micro_SD that fell down the center console of my car.... Never have found that little sucker!

  39. Rick Shaw

    Smelly Stuff

    Hmmm .. there appears to be form on this issue.

    I think my 'ex' must have come from Utah.

    I asked her what her perfume was called.

    She said "It's called 'Come to Me'".

    I said "It doesn't smell like come to me".

    I know ..

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