Police officers in Port St. Lucie, Florida have a new tactic for getting guns off the street: utilizing gun-sniffing dogs.

“The dogs are capable of finding a needle in a haystack, so to speak,” Port St. Lucie Officer Will Harris told CBS12.

Over the last week, three guns were discovered by these gun-sniffing hounds. The firearms are believed to be discarded by criminals during encounters with police officers. Areas with heavy brush make it difficult for law enforcement officers to trace these guns. With the help of the K-9s, they are able to recover the disposed of firearms.

“It doesn’t take ‘em very long once you get ‘em into the area,” said Officer Robbie Gibbins, Port St. Lucie Police.

The dogs are able to trace the guns by the suspect’s scent and the smell of gun powder residue.

“If the gun has a bullet in it, even just one. Or the gun has been fired where there’s gunshot residue on the firearm, he’d be able to detect that,” Officer Harris explained.

It is ideal for these K-9s to arrive on scene within 2 to 3 hours of the crime. This gives them a greater likelihood of utilizing the scents found on the firearm to track down the suspect.

According to officers, however, K-9s can still smell the gunpowder residue for 2 to 3 days after it was fired.

These dogs have become beneficial in preventing children from obtaining these discarded firearms.

Watch CBS 12’s coverage: