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Supreme Court sides with drug-sniffing dog

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a drug-sniffing German shepherd named Aldo in ruling that police do not have to extensively document a dog’s expertise to justify relying on the animal to search someone’s vehicle.

The unanimous court overturned a Florida Supreme Court ruling. That court had thrown out a 2006 search of a truck after Aldo ‘‘alerted’’ to the smell of drugs, saying police must compile detailed evidence of the dog’s reliability before establishing probable cause to search the truck.

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Justice Elena Kagan said the Florida court had gone too far. She suggested that proper training and certification of the dog — rather than how it has performed in the field — might be enough for law enforcement’s purposes.

‘‘The question — similar to every inquiry into probable cause — is whether all the facts surrounding a dog’s alert, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime,’’ Kagan wrote. ‘‘A sniff is up to snuff when it meets that test. . . . Aldo’s did.’’

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