7News Special Report: Drug-sniffing dogs

(WHDH) — Heroin hidden in a sandwich. Four bags of heroin found in a fake soda bottle. Ecstasy — inside a fake water bottle. And even more heroin buried in a battery. All drug discoveries made by Tom Robichaud and his dog.

“I just look at the kid and shake my head… ” says Robichaud. “What? You think you’re going to fool a dog?”

Robichaud offers a private drug sniffing dog business. If a parent suspects their child is using drugs, they can call Robichaud. He and his dog will then come to the house and sniff out any trace of drugs without calling police.

“I don’t go into the house with drugs,” says Robichaud. “I don’t leave with drugs.”

He and his business partner Jeff Oteri call the method “Discreet Intervention.”

“I’m there to search your home and tell you, yes there’s drugs there, no there’s not drugs there.” says Oteri

If the dog does find drugs – the family decides what happens next. “What you do is up up to you” concludes Oteri.

To imitate what a home search is like we’re at a local business where Tom does some of his training and we took a Q-Tip with the smell of heroin on it and hide it underneath this grill. Then we’ll be able to tell the exact moment one of his dogs hits on the drugs. His dog checks several places and once he finds the drugs he sits and waits for his reward, which is a ball.

We did two other demonstrations with Oteri’s dogs. Each time — same result.

“Good Boy!” Oteri tells the dog.

Robichaud says lots of times the dog doesn’t actually do any searching. Often the team just has to show up to spark a confession.

“They just give it up because they’re afraid,” says Robichaud.

The two say this business is personal. Oteri is a father of two. Robichaud lost his brother to a heroin overdose in 2001.

“I’ve seen what he did to my parents,” says Robichaud. “It just ruined them.”

“If I can help one set of parents, I’m good with that,” says Oteri.

With New England in the midst of an opioid epidemic, they’ve seen a spike in business, doing as many as five home searches a week.

“Twenty, 30 years ago would you have a job?” asks 7’s Justin Dougherty.

“No,” says Robichaud. “It’s a totally different world.”

Robichaud says his dogs can also sniff out firearms but he tells parents if he comes across guns, he will go to police.

For more information on the service: http://discreetintervention.com/

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