Calls for sniffer dog ban at music festivals

Thu, 17 Jul 2014

A study in Australia has found that working dogs, that are trained to sniff out drugs that people may be carrying, could in fact have the opposite effect that they were intended to, and make drugs more dangerous at festivals.

The study looked at festivals across New South Wales in Australia, and asked people about their use of drugs when attending them.

Being infamous for drug use, festivals have seen a high level of security over recent years, and bag checks are becoming more and more common.

The dogs are part of this security and can help to detect recreational drugs like marijuana. However, 62 percent of those questioned said that they would take drugs into the festivals anyway, despite the threat of the sniffer dogs.

13 percent however, said that they would likely take some or all of their drugs before entering the festival grounds, so as to avoid security, showing that the drug detection methods are worthless as people will already be under the effects by the time they get inside. This can also lead to overdosing, hospitalisation, and has resulted in at least two deaths globally within the last few years.

However, it is thought that as sniffer dogs are more easily able to detect drugs like marijuana, people are turning to smuggling other, arguably more dangerous drugs into the festival grounds, such as MDMA (ecstasy).

The study followed a reasoned request by Daniel McNamee, of the band Art Vs Science, to ban security dogs from this year's Splendour in the Grass festival and to see how it affects overdose related hospitalisations at the festival.

As it stands at the moment however, sniffer dogs will be present at the festival, according to the Splendour in the Grass website, and also to early reports of replies from MP Don Page.

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