Monitoring. Blocking. Filtering. Tracking. Parenting these days includes an arsenal of tools to find out what kids are up to, on the street, on the phone, and everywhere else in between. Some say it’s about safety. Others say it’s about spying. And many question the boundaries of parental responsibility.
But should parenting go to the dogs?
Absolutely, according to a New Jersey-based company called Sniff Dogs. For $200 an hour, parents can rent a specially-trained Labrador Retriever that sniffs for drugs in their kids’ bedrooms. Heroin, crystal meth, cocaine. The dogs can even smell a marijuana seed from 15 feet away, as well as the lingering scent of the drug smoked days earlier. If contraband is detected, the pooch sits down, his handler marks the spot, and the parents take over the search from there.
The key, according to Sniff Dogs, is to conduct the search when children are not at home, and without their knowledge. That way, says Sniff Dogs co-owner Debra Stone, “the conversation is not, ‘Are you using drugs?’ but ‘We found the drugs.’” The stealth searches are legal, and Stone insists they don’t constitute snooping. “It’s not a violation of trust,” she said. “It’s what parents often do when monitoring other areas.”
Others disagree. “There are major repercussions for this type of intervention,” said a clinical psychologist. “When parents do this it erodes trust and goodwill.”
“As a parent, you worry,” counters a mother who hired a Sniff Dog to suss out her three kids’ rooms. Though no drugs were found, she says she’ll use the dogs again. “I trust my kids,” she said, “but you can only trust them so far.”
Tell us what you think: Is secretly using a drug-sniffing dog parental responsibility or parental snooping? Does a child’s personal safety ever justify her parents spying on her?