<b>Sniff-Sniff:</b>  For the third year in a row, drug dogs will search high school campuses for narcotics.

Paul Wellman

Sniff-Sniff: For the third year in a row, drug dogs will search high school campuses for narcotics.

Drug-Dog Days Continue

Despite Zero Busts Last Year, School Board Renews Contract

When canines arrive on a high school campus to sniff out drugs, a texting frenzy among students quickly spreads the news. These “drug dogs” have roamed Santa Barbara high schools once a month for the past two years. And the school board voted Tuesday in a 3-2 split for the hounds to return for a third. The dogs, which cost the district $13,500 annually, search parking lots and classrooms. Perhaps impacting the results, students can choose to take their backpacks out of the classroom during the searches, an effort to uphold privacy rights ​— ​and to likely avoid lawsuits. Last year, the dogs did not find any drugs.

Drug offenses have mostly declined since they peaked during the 2009-2010 school year, when 258 students were caught, according to school staff. Last school year, 147 students were busted for using or selling drugs. The issue of drug dogs has for years split boardmembers who tend to vote unanimously on most issues. The general decline in drug offenses cannot necessarily be attributed to the dogs, argued Boardmember Monique Limón, who opposed renewing the contract. In fact, all types of infractions have decreased. And expulsion cases continue to be drug related, she added. Drug-sniffing dogs have increasingly shown up in public schools across the country, inviting a militant atmosphere on campuses, opponents contend.

But the program is a preventative one, say supporters, who credit the zero hits and decreased offenses in part to the random searches by the drug-sniffing dogs. Also, the district spends more than $200,000 on drug prevention programs, Boardmember Ed Heron said.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Pair of F-22s Buzz Santa Barbara City College

Turbulence rattles windows and nerves on Monday morning.

Mandatory Evacuation Called for Fire Zones in Santa Barbara County

Heavy rains expected Tuesday-Thursday; debris flows feared.

Cannabis Farmer Gets Over $1 Million Insurance Payout

Thomas Fire ash destroys crop; analysis finds asbestos, lead, arsenic, and magnesium.

Next Debris Flow Could Take Different, Unknown Path

"I've never seen this degree of hazard," says Cal Fire scientist.

Biggest Storm Since 1/9 Approaching Santa Barbara

The storm system brings increased threat of flash floods and debris flows.