BRADENTON (FOX 13) - The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has a new computer-sniffing dog, but she's not your typical police K9. She's a former shelter animal turned officer.
Gia was rescued from the Bishop Animal Shelter in Bradenton, and then trained to sniff out hidden electronics like cell phones, hard drives, laptops, even SD cards. She can find anything related to hidden data, like child pornography.
Detective Joni Zimmermann is her handler. She says dogs like Gia are a critical asset in her line of work: investigating crimes against children, especially those suspected of trading in child porn.
"There's certain places they'll hide these things where a normal detective wouldn't be able to look, or couldn't check, but her nose is going to go further than we can with our hands," explained Zimmerman.
Detective Zimmermann says, for Gia, sniffing out electronics is like play. Zimmerman said she thinks Gia is one of only about five electronic-sniffing dogs in the U.S. right now, but that number is likely to rise.
Gia is the second rescue dog that has gone to work for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.