How Bear the Electronic Detection Dog Went From a Life on the Streets to Sniffing Out Key Evidence

Bear was rescued just years ago.

K-9 Bear was named ASPCA’s Public Servant of the year after sniffing out key evidence on electronic storage devices in more than 125 cases, including Jared Fogle’s child pornography arrest.

It’s hard to believe just years ago, he was rescued from a life on the streets.

“If Bear could speak about the significance of the award today, he would ask, ‘Where’s my T-bone steak?’” his handler, Ian Polhemus, told

Polhemus and Bear work for the Seattle Police Department on the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which focuses primarily on child sexual exploitation cases.

He explained that Bear is trained specifically to sniff out the type of glue that is typically used in hard drives, solid state drives, cellphones, iPods, iPads, thumb drives, SD cards and micro-SD cards, making him integral in helping investigators pick up anything that may be storing electronic information.

“When I bring him into a particular room, generally, he and I will search the room by ourselves or possibly with whomever was searching the room as well,” Polhemus said. “Using him and his ability with his nose is no different than my, as an investigator, going in and conducting that search with a flashlight.”

Over the years, Bear’s worked on more than 125 cases and found at least 100 pieces of critical evidence that might have been overlooked otherwise.

Most famously, evidence that Bear recovered led to the arrest of Jared Fogle, former spokesperson for Subway.

“Bear went through the house and found a couple of items including the thumb drive that had been overlooked, that, as I understand it, was instrumental in what ultimately ended up being Mr. Fogle's guilty plea as opposed to a trial,” Polhemus said.

When he’s not on the job, Bear and his partner visit schools to spread the word about being safe on the internet.

“We talk about that digital citizenship and we talk about how once you hit the send button it’s gone, and you’re never going to get it back,” Polhemus explained. “I don’t think that we can tell our kids often enough about those dangerous and how to protect themselves.”