Lucky and Flo, the two Labradors who helped sniff out nearly 1 million illegal discs last week within days of joining Malaysia's anti-piracy effort, have been moved to a safe house, a news report said Thursday.
The New Straits Times reported that a source had tipped off officials about a bounty offered for killing the sniffer dogs, who are on loan for a month from the Motion Picture Association of America. The amount was not disclosed.
"The dogs are a genuine threat to the pirated disc syndicates, thus the instruction to eliminate them," Firdaus Zakaria, the enforcement director of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, was quoted as saying.
He did not elaborate on the information received by the ministry.
Firdaus and senior ministry officials could not be immediately reached for further details on the report. A spokesman contacted by The Associated Press declined to comment.
Lucky and Flo, who were pressed into service on March 13, gained fame after they sniffed out a massive shipment of pirated movie DVDs in office complex in southern Johor state on March 19.
The canines detected the discs hidden behind locked doors, which officials broke open with crowbars to reveal a cache of nearly 1 million discs worth $2.8 million. Five Malaysians and a Vietnamese man also were arrested in the operation.
It is the first time dogs have been used by authorities anywhere in the world to detect contraband discs, according to Mike Ellis, regional director for the MPAA.
The MPAA says its members — including top Hollywood studios Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Universal — lost $1.2 billion to Asia-Pacific movie pirates in 2006.
Lucky and Flo are trained to detect polycarbonates — chemicals used in the disc manufacturing process. They cannot tell the difference between real and pirated discs, but can detect discs hidden in shipments or concealed places.
Malaysia is among the world's top illegal movie producers and exporters, Washington and the MPAA have said. It is one of 36 countries on a U.S. watch list of serious copyright violators.
Officials say 5 million discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids in the Southeast Asian nation last year, and 780 people were arrested.
China remains at the top of the MPAA's movie piracy list.
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