From pound puppy to crime fighting dog

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For a city to buy a drug sniffing dog it could cost thousands of dollars.

Now a former pound puppy trained in narcotics detection, is up for donation to a deserving police force.

Bird is a golden retrieve, a stray that has been a resident at Jonesboro Animal control for about 2 months. Sgt. Larry Rogers says a he is always looking for a star. Retrievers and German Shepherds always catch his eye.

"I look at these dogs and wonder if they can do something else. Can they so an actual job out there? " Bird seemed to be one of those dogs. Passed over for adoption because she was so active, Rogers said he saw potential. "It had a lot of drive to it. It was just a fantastic little dog. And you have to know the difference between drive and just a hyperactive wanting to play dog."

Bird was trained to sniff out drugs by Blake Bristow. Bristow is also a dog handler for the Jonesboro Police Department. Bird is trained to detect 4 primary substances.

Bristow, "I use a scented probe with 4 drug odors. Methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana." Initially the dog is taught to search for the odors. It's like a game. When she finds the drug she is rewarded with her ball to play with.

For the session we attended they were using Marijuana. Hidden first outside on a pickup truck both on the outside and then under the dash. To Bird, this is a game looking for a scented toy. Once she knows what odor to detect then, Blake said she has to be able to tell an officer.

"An alert phase. Basically teach them to sit when they find drugs." Bird sat back on her haunches when she located the pot in the fuel fill area. To me she looked like she was smiling.

By acquiring a dog like Bird from the pound and training her a city can save a lot of money.

Rogers says many cities cannot afford to go to Europe to get a fully trained dog. Trained here in Jonesboro, Bird will be quite a bargain.

Rogers, "What Blake's got into it right now is his time, food and medical but that's nowhere near the 75 hundred, 10 thousand that a department would spend typically on it."

Very soon Bird will be ready for full-time work. But she's not for sale, she's going to be given away.

Bristow, "I want to give to the most deserving police department that's being proactive. Because a dog is just a tool and if the departments being pro-active then this will help them even more in their fight against drugs."

Interested police forces need to write Blake a letter of application. More information can be found here.

This is one happy, ready to fight the war on drugs kind of dog. It's time to put her to work.

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