Maui Public School Unleashes Drug-Sniffing Dog

John Costales
John Costales

MAKAWAO, MAUI (KHNL) - Dogs are synonymous with companionship and security, but a Maui canine goes a step further and helps fight crime.  It's a landmark program available for the first time at Hawaii's public schools, and officials say it could revolutionize how schools fight drug abuse.

Custer is a dog on a mission.  He helps Kalama Intermediate School fight crime.  Custer can sniff out drugs, booze, and even gunpowder.  Principal John Costales hopes the canine helps students stay focused on schoolwork and away from illegal activities.

"To take away the distraction where they can focus on their education, it would be a better chance for them to realize their dreams," said Costales.

A chance that starts with one sniff from Custer.  His nose is so sensitive, it will not only sniff out drugs and alcohol, but the residue left behind.

"If children were to maybe go to a party where there was marijuana around and they got close and came to school the next day," said Whitney White, Custer's dog handler. "If their jacket was lying on the ground and he happens to be walking by, he would be able to pick up that residual odor of marijuana."

The school's police officer said having this program will help kids stay on the right side of the law.

"By educating them now, it's going to give them that much more knowledge now so that it'll help them in their later years," said Officer Darrell Ramos of the Maui Police Department.

Knowledge to help themselves and future generations tackle the state's drug problem.

"The future of Hawaii is our kids," said White.  "And we really need to start addressing the issue because that's going to take us where we're going to be, either going to go on the right path or wrong path in the future."

Custer and his handler will conduct random checks during the remainder of the school year.  Besides Kalama Intermediate, three other public schools plan to start using drug sniffing dogs this year.