Malaysia Brings on Full-Time Canine Team to Sniff Out Pirated DVDs

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysian officials are hoping that a pair of specially trained dogs will allow police to find pirated DVDs and help improve the country's reputation as an abuser of intellectual property rights, said the Associated Press.

The dogs, two male Labradors from Northern Ireland named Paddy and Manny, are trained to detect chemicals used in DVD production, and are set to become the world's first permanent canine national anti-piracy unit. According to Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, the dogs will be deployed next month.

While the dogs cannot distinguish between legitimate and pirated DVDs, they are able to sniff out and locate hidden caches of discs.

Malaysian officials have great hopes that the dogs will help improve Malaysia's damaged reputation. Mohamad Roslan Mahayuddin, the ministry's enforcement director, told the AP that his wish is that the dogs will help get Malaysia removed from a U.S. watch list of countries that abuse intellectual property rights.

Malaysia decided to enlist the aid of the dogs after a visit last year by a similarly trained team from the Motion Picture Association of America. Mohamed Roslan noted that those dogs helped Malay law enforcement uncover 1.6 million pirated DVDs and other optical discs and equipment worth $6 million during a six-month period.

Paddy and Manny were donated to Malaysian authorities by the MPAA. According to Mike Ellis, the MPAA's Asia-Pacific director, the cost to buy and train the dogs was less than $24,000.

Ellis told the AP, "We are not seeing Malaysian products appear all over the world like we used to, so it's more now of a domestic problem. And the dogs will certainly help the domestic problem. It raises the awareness of piracy."

The dogs arrived in Malaysia on February 18, but require an adjustment period to acclimate to the tropical weather and their new handlers.

According the AP, Paddy, a two-year-old black Labrador, came from an animal shelter that rescued him from abuse. Manny, a yellow one-year-old, came from a breeder in Northern Ireland.

It won't be a cushy job for the dogs, however. The AP reported that movie pirates allegedly placed a bounty of $29,000 on the previous team of DVD-sniffing dogs. Malaysian authorities are taking care to maintain the new dogs' safety.