Reports from inthemix are coming in that suggest police in Tasmania might be going a little bit overboard with their use of sniffer dogs. Tasmania Police, and dogs, were present at a new festival called Rose Quartz that boasted a mere 500-person cap. The festival featured mostly underground talent, with even the biggest names not registering much of a blip on the worldwide radar, leading to even more confusion why police felt that this gathering was a priority.
Sniffer dogs have become a point of contention in Australia as drug use has received a lot of media attention in the latter half of 2015. Many, like news station ABC, believe that sniffer dogs are having an adverse and opposite reaction on possible drug users at festivals and have called for them to be banned.
The reaction to the dogs at Rose Quartz was especially grave, as showcased by attendees who spoke to inthemix about the situation.
“People were being safe and looking out for each other,” one punter told inthemix, until the dog squad arrived and “people ate their drugs in a panic, and felt uncomfortable and unsafe. It was irresponsible of the police and they should have known better.”
In a poll on the article asking whether sniffer dogs are “effective at festivals,” over 1300 have voted ‘No’ while only around 50 or so have voted ‘Yes,’ quite possibly just to be contrarian.
If there’s anything to learn from this story, it’s that there’s a right way to handle drug use at festival and a wrong way – sniffer dogs are the wrong way. To that end, there’s actually been a bill introduced to “end sniffer dog patrols” in public and at festivals in New South Wales.
There hasn’t been as vehement a backlash against sniffer dogs in the US as in Australia, though their use around the world has been widely documented as ineffective.