It is pretty widely known that pigeons can be trained to carry things from one place to another -- they've been used to carry messages since forever, and really it was only a matter of time before somebody thought, "I'm going to tie some drugs to that shit!"
So, prisoners in Colombia trained pigeons to smuggle goods in from the outside. It makes sense -- anything that comes through the prison doors will get searched, but a prison yard doesn't have a dome over it or anything. The skies are wide open.
Pigeons are the best phone carriers.
So on the outside, the birds are fitted with tiny little bird backpacks full of contraband, then sent off over the wall to the waiting inmates. Prison officials have no way to stop them, short of shooting every single pigeon they see. In fact, the prison guards didn't even know about the smuggler pigeons until, as this extremely British article puts it, "Crims using a specially trained pigeon to carry narcotics to their chums doing porridge overloaded the bird, causing it to come down early and wind up in the hands of the local Old Bill."
Translation: The police found the birds. Cor blimey.
Colombian prisoners aren't the only ones using pigeons as smugglers. The crew of an oil platform off the coast of Norway found an exhausted pigeon on deck with 5 grams of hash taped to its legs, which they presumably then smoked to relieve the boredom of living on an oil platform. Pigeons are also used in South Africa to smuggle diamonds. Since diamonds are immensely more big league than cigarettes being flown into a prison (see above), the South African police shoot the pigeons on sight.
"I just want to speak to my goddamn union rep."
And if you thought that was the most cartoonish use of an animal to commit a crime, that's only because you haven't yet heard about ...
Parrots are popular amongst pirates, Jimmy Buffett fans and people who like feeding things crackers. Their ability to mimic human language makes them entertaining pets when taught rap lyrics or profanity (the two categories enjoy some overlap). As we have said before, their ability to understand language is impressive. Also, that ability is what makes them so popular with criminals.
He does all their publicity.
A Colombian gang (Colombian criminals love using birds, possibly because in Central America there's just so freaking many of them) trained parrots to shout "Run, run, the cat is going to get you" in Spanish whenever they saw a police uniform. One such parrot, named Lorenzo, would alert a band of smugglers before the police closed in on their hideout. "You could say he was some sort of watch bird," Officer Hollman Oliveira said of Lorenzo, after the bird and his cohorts were taken into custody.
Yes, they arrested the bird.
When police raided the building Lorenzo was guarding, they seized over 200 weapons and made four arrests. The police tricked Lorenzo the easiest way possible: by sending undercover cops. When uniformed police showed up after the raid, Lorenzo went into overdrive, squawking his warning for hours.
He's going behind bars for a long time.
And in case you thought this was just one oddball case, Colombian authorities say they have captured over 1,700 parrots trained to shout warnings.
Dogs have been employed by humans since the beginning of time to hunt, herd sheep, guard houses, help the blind and test the humpability of stuffed animals. You know what would make dogs even more useful, though? The ability to predict the goddamned future.
Granted, the thing they have an uncanny ability to predict is pretty specific -- when a person with epilepsy will have a seizure -- but they can do it, minutes or even hours before it occurs.
"Look, I'll tell you when you're going to have it if you get me the kibble first."
When they detect that a seizure is on the way, the dogs either bark, run around in circles, lie down in front of their master or maybe spell out "SEIZURE" on the carpet in dog biscuits. The person in danger can then either take medication or get to a safe place. Some dogs are trained to call for help if their master is unable to (which is a nice way of saying the dog has failed miserably at its job as an early warning system).
"Send help, and then post my resume on Monster.com."
We know you're wondering how in the hell the same animals that can't figure out that you're the one holding the laser pointer can somehow sense seizures coming before the victim even does. The answer is, nobody knows. There is speculation that the dogs notice subtle changes in behavior or are able to smell a change in body chemistry, but so far there is no scientific evidence to support either theory.
Our working theory is that dogs are badass.
Consequently, there's no way to train a dog to detect a seizure. They'll either do it or they won't. Most dogs can be trained to assist a person while they're having a seizure, so if you have epilepsy it wouldn't hurt to have one around, but detecting a seizure beforehand is an innate ability that about 10 percent of all dogs have, so don't assume, every time Lord Muffington poops in the laundry room, that you need to take a pill and click your Life Alert bracelet.
For more reasons that animals are really big jerks, check out 5 Lovable Animals You Didn't Know Are Secretly Terrifying and The 5 Creepiest Serial Killers (Who Were Animals).