According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug addiction “is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” In reality, substance abuse goes far beyond affecting the user, it tears apart families, leads to child abuse, assaults, homelessness, theft, accidental death, suicide, workplace violence, DUI accidents, lifelong battles with addiction, and much more.
“Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction,” says the NIDA. Drug abuse and addiction alter brain chemistry, and the longer people use, the harder it is for them to get back to normal – leaving concerned family, friends and co-workers desperately asking, “How do I confirm my suspicions, how do I find the drugs?”
For families, schools, and businesses alike, substance abuse comes at a very high price. Just ask Amanda Schneider, the founder of Nosey Dogs Detection Services in Las Vegas, who was once close to someone who struggled with addiction. “I just remember about a year or two into the relationship, he just acted different. I had never tried drugs, so I didn’t know the warning signs,” said Schneider.
“I felt like I was driving myself crazy. Where could the drugs be?” said Schneider. After spending years tearing the home the couple shared apart searching for her boyfriend’s “stash,” one day she stumbled across the drugs entirely by accident. That relationship eventually ended, but instead of letting it beat her down, the experience inspired Schneider to start Nosey Dogs Detection Services, which provides private narcotic detection sweeps in people’s homes, schools, businesses, airports, casinos, rehab facilities, and more.
It’s not like anybody can pick up the phone and have the police come out to their home or business and have K9s search for drugs, but Schneider’s startup has changed all that. Since launch, Nosey Dogs Detection Services has caught the attention of the Las Vegas Review Journal, and won the SCORE Small Business Championship for Nevada. And after speaking with Schneider, it became clear that both were well-deserved.
“Our mission is to provide residential and commercial customers with the comfort of knowing that their properties are drug-free.” ~Amanda Schneider
I describe Schneider as a social entrepreneur who created her company to help others dealing with substance abuse and addiction in the residential, educational, and commercial settings. I got to speak with Schneider about how living with a drug addict inspired her to start her company, and how it’s the first and ONLY private K9 company in Nevada. Here’s what she had to say.
What is the backstory?
I was in a relationship for four years; I remember about a year or two into the relationship, he started to act different. I have never tried drugs nor been around them so I didn’t know the warning signs and I didn’t know the side effects of someone on drugs. It took me a long time to piece it together, you wouldn’t believe the crazy thoughts that crossed my mind. There would be weeks where he wouldn’t eat, he wouldn’t come home, and he would leave for three days at a time. No matter how many times I would ask him, he would deny it. Addicts don’t want to tell the people they love they’re addicted to drugs.
One day, I was going through the garage for something. On the very top shelf, hidden behind a few other random boxes and items, there was an air pump for an air mattress. Inside of it there was Meth hidden. My deepest fear became a reality. I had searched everywhere in our four-bedroom home when he was gone. You wouldn’t believe the places I would search in the house, just in thought that maybe just maybe I would find something.
A narcotics K9 could find this in 5-10 minutes, but it took me two years to find. I knew I couldn’t be the only person questioning a loved one (child, family member or friend) and afraid there were drugs in my home. I didn’t want to contact the police to search the house because if my fear was true, I didn’t want him to be arrested, I just wanted to get him help.
I knew there had to be others like me, scared and worried that someone I cared about could be using drugs. I wanted an option to clear the thoughts that wouldn’t result in ruining their life. I knew there had to be a way where if my deepest fear was true, I could get them help and into counseling. This is where the ideas for Nosey Dogs came from. I did research for about two years, contacted state congressman, the police department, and the Private Investigators Board to make sure the idea was possible and that everything we do stays within legal boundaries.
What were the effects of his addiction?
It completely ruined our lives. As the addiction started to take hold of him, he was almost immediately fired from his job. After that, he couldn’t hold a job. We literally lost everything. We lost our house. We lost our cars. Everything became a snowball effect from there. His entire life changed: He lost his friends, had no job, and was in and out of jail. I was with him two years after I found out because I thought I could save him; we even tried rehab, but it didn’t work. No matter how many times I thought I removed the drugs from our home, he would return from rehab and fall right back into it.
What was training like?
Training was a new experience for me and something I continue to learn about every day. When I got our first narcotics dog Nick, I had to fly to Tennessee for a week and take a handler course with him. Once certified as a handler, I then had to take the same K9 test that the Tennessee police officers take and pass before we could bring him home. Once we brought Nick back to Las Vegas we had to be certified and take the same test Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department K9 team takes. We normally train Nick 16-20 hours a week and I’m always reading new books and the latest articles on how to keep Nick at the top of his game.
(Amanda Schneider and "Nick")
Who are your main clients?
So far, it’s been mostly businesses, schools, and private airlines; the majority of Nevada residents aren’t aware we exist for residential needs. However, as we expand and news channels cover our story, more and more parents are contacting us. Since it is a business that has never existed in Nevada before, it’s simply a matter of showing residents we’re here to help. While most of our clients are commercial, I initially started Nosey Dogs to help family members and loved ones.
Can you help parents and school teachers?
Parents and schools are starting to be our most popular clients. With the legalization of Marijuana happening recently, you can imagine the number of parents, teachers, and school administrators concerned about it showing up in their homes and schools. Our dogs specialize in school sweeps and patrolling schools, so not only can we find anything that may have been brought on campus, but we’re also a huge deterrent when students see our dogs patrolling school grounds.
One thing that’s been a large worry is edibles. They are appealing to young adults because they look and taste just like candy or regular desserts. To a parent or teacher these may look like regular candy but our dogs are trained to differentiate between a normal sucker or gummy bear and an edible.
Have you had unexpected clients?
The night clubs and other clubs were our biggest surprise. I’m sure most people think it’s just a given in that industry, but management doesn’t like the idea of drugs at all.
Are you obligated to turn drugs over to law enforcement?
Technically, we don’t find it. For example, if I’m in somebody’s house and the dog alerts a dresser. I don’t go searching through the dresser; I mark that spot and the homeowner goes through it, I’m not handling the drugs nor do we see them. If the homeowner finds anything we give them tips on how to dispose of it properly.
Any plans on expanding your business?
We have another German Shepherd puppy named Jax that we have begun training and have taught him the basics of searching. We are still trying to decide whether we will begin his training in explosives/weapons, or into bed bugs. Both are huge markets out here in Las Vegas.
Amanda Schneider is the founder of Nosey Dogs Detection Services, a company that offers private, confidential, and discreet drug detection services throughout Las Vegas, and Clark County, Nevada. Follow Nosey Dogs on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, or contact Schneider directly at Amanda@noseydogsdetection.com.
Originally published on LinkedIn.