Uptown Dog

Adventures of a not-so-average mutt making new friends in New York City

Franky Sniffs His Way to the Supreme Court

I am always sniffing things that get me into trouble, but luckily for me, no one has made a federal case out of it! Meet Franky, a handsome chocolate lab who is sniffing out the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

Image via Dog Files

Franky is a retired drug dog who served with the Miami-Dade Police Department for seven years. His journey to the High Court began in 2006, when officers brought Franky to investigate an anonymous tip about a marijuana grow house. Franky detected the odor of marijuana outside the front door, which provided officers with probable cause to obtain a search warrant. Franky’s nose was right on the money: Police found 179 marijuana plants inside. In case you’re not sure how much weed that is, it’s worth more than $700,000. Good boy, Franky!

When the occupant of the home was hauled into court, his attorney argued that Franky’s dog sniff violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Drug-sniffing dogs are not uncommon – you’ve probably seen them in action at the airport or the train station. The Supreme Court has approved dog sniffs in public areas such as these, where there is a low expectation of privacy. Police dogs can sniff suitcases, packages, and cars to their heart’s content without offending the Constitution.

The problem with Franky’s case is that it involves the sanctity of the home, which receives the utmost protection under the Fourth Amendment. A dog’s nose can give officers a glimpse of what’s going on inside the home, which could be considered a search that requires a warrant. But Florida prosecutors argue that a dog sniff is never a search, because drug dogs are only trained to detect illegal substances, and there is no expectation of privacy with regard to illegal activity.

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and resolve the constitutional issue of Franky’s sniff. It’s hard to predict which way the Court will come down in this case. But one thing’s for certain: Franky was a great police dog! Dog Files has all the details on his career. He worked for seven years, and assisted with the seizure of 2.5 tons of marijuana and $4.9 million in drug money. Franky retired in June 2011 and lives with his former handler. His happy, friendly disposition was his best asset as a police dog. He could work in the most crowded, hectic places without raising any suspicion.

After all that hard work, I sure hope Franky is enjoying retirement.

Image via Wired News

(Sources: WSJ Law Blog and Dog Files.)

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7 thoughts on “Franky Sniffs His Way to the Supreme Court

  1. This is a great story about Franky. Sounds like he had a more productive career than many people.

  2. Great story. I am amazed that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and resolve the constitutional issue of Franky’s sniff. Franky did a fantastic job!

  3. Thank you, Uptown Dog, for bringing Franky’s plight to our attention. We dogs must stick together, after all, and support our brothers in times like these.

    I do hope Franky isn’t arrested should the Supreme Court find his sniff guilty of the 4th Amendment. Franky is a hero and should be celebrated as one.

  4. No worries, Henry, Franky won’t go to jail. No matter what happens, he will be happy at home with his former handler. The outcome is very important for other police dogs and their handlers, though, because it could limit what they are able to do. Rest assured that when the Supreme Court’s decision comes out, Uptown Dog will keep you informed!

  5. Hats off to Franky for a job well done!!! 🙂 He deserves a long and happy retirement! Great post! Love your blog!

    GOd Bless You!

    The Collies and Chuck 🙂

  6. I saw this on the news here the other day – I thought it was interesting and wondered whether or not, if the cannabis had been smelt by a police officer without a dog, would it have been challenged? I wonder what the implications will be for other cases too, should the challenge be upheld.

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