At our meeting on 14 November Rotarians were given an insight into the world of drug detection. The presentation was given by Wayne and Lydia Severn assisted by drug dog Nick.
Wayne gained a PhD in chemistry at Victoria University. After involvement in K9 handling and search and rescue Wayne founded Scenttech a company specialising in drug detection.
Wayne Severn, Nick giving Graeme Titcombe a sideways look
The company's MethCheck function involves chemically testing houses that may have been used for the manufacture or consumption of methamphetamine. Senttech's DrugCheck function involves the checking of urine and saliva samples. Scenttech also provides a dog based drug detection service. The dogs used are German Shepherds and Malinois. The Malinois are like a smaller version of the German Shepherd. Great care is taken with the selection and importation of the dogs.
Dogs are used for a variety of reasons. They have a superior scenting ability, almost a third of their brains is devoted to processing olfactory inputs. Dogs can perform dual roles, able to identify stashes as well as indicating individual drug users depending on personal hygiene. They can provide probable cause for further testing and they provide a highly visible deterrent.
Scenttech get their dogs independently validated to international standards on a bi-annual basis. They hold licenses from the Ministry Of Health to hold limited quantities of drugs for training purposes.
Scenttech operate in a wide variety of environment. The dogs can distinguish competing scents in engineering workshops, factories, warehouses, ships, the transport industry etc where safety is paramount. The dogs are also used in white collar environments where drug use is often affordable. The dogs can be used in apartments to sniff under doors in order to meet insurance requirements.
Dogs have many advantages. They are quick, non invasive, they will work around staff and are very cost effective.
To round off the evening Wayne, Lydia and Nick gave a practical demonstration of drug detection. Wayne then answered a wide variety of questions from the floor.