Dogs have been trained to help humans for thousands of years; some experts believe dogs were domesticated nearly 15,000 years ago, possibly even earlier. Dogs have helped humans protect crops and cattle, pull loads, and more. Now, dogs are even being trained to help combat counterfeiting.
Drug- and bomb-sniffing dogs are common stories, but many people don’t know that a special troupe of dogs have been trained to locate counterfeit currency. Columbia is a major source of counterfeit American currency; a report issued by the Secret Service, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve Board announced that Columbia produces approximately 15% of the counterfeit currency in circulation. According to NewsMax, “since 1998, the Secret Service and Colombian authorities have seized more than $150 million in counterfeit currency.”
While Columbia produces a vast amount of the circulating counterfeits, forgers in North Korea and Eastern European nations are also getting in on the game. These operations are almost always part of organized crime syndicates, and taking them down is a delicate operation, involving intense cooperation between the Secret Service and the government of the country involved. Counterfeiting helps fund not only organized crime, but even terrorism, and is important to keep in check for reasons beyond the obvious financial and economic impacts.
Officials struggled for years to find an effective way to stop the flow of fake cash, before training dogs to take on the project.
The first counterfeit-sniffing dog, Mike, went into the field in 1997, and other dogs since then have had great success finding and busting counterfeiters. The Secret Service has expanded the canine anti-counterfeiting program, and begun tackling counterfeiting of US currency all over the world. In 2003, US and Columbian officials seized nearly $20 million in fake bills; the counterfeiters were preparing to spread the fake money into South America and Europe, as well as the United States.
Counterfeit sniffing dogs have proved invaluable in sniffing out counterfeiting operations, hidden stashes of fake bills, and more. As more dogs are trained and put into the field, officials expect to see even more impressive results.