VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office (VBSO) has welcomed a new drug-detecting K9 into its family: Pablo, a 17-month-old German shepherd born in the Netherlands.
The K9 will help Virginia Beach deputies screen the city's correctional center and other public places for drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines (meth), and Ecstasy, the sheriff's office said in a news release.
VBSO bought Pablo in late spring from the Ventosa K9 Kennel in Scotland Neck, North Carolina. The Department of Justice's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funded the $7,500 purchase.
Master Deputy Anthony Natalzia trained Pablo for over three months, teaching him to detect different drugs and allowing him to bond with his handler.
In early September, Pablo earned a Virginia Police Work Dog Association certification and has since completed over a dozen searches.
Pablo joins two other K9s with the sheriff's office: Gaston, a 6-year-old German shepherd certified in detecting explosives, and Candy, a 10-year-old German shepherd certified in detecting narcotics.
VBSO said Candy will retire next year. She is the only K9 with the sheriff's office certified in detecting marijuana. Pablo didn't get that training because marijuana was legalized in Virginia.
“The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit is an extremely important tool in our mission to protect the citizens of Virginia Beach. Our K9s are also cherished members of the Sheriff’s Office family,” Sheriff Ken Stolle wrote in a news release.
“K9 Pablo and his handler not only find illicit substances that arrestees may try to bring into the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, but they also stand at-the-ready whenever, wherever they may be needed to support public safety. I am extremely proud of this elite unit and how far it has come in the last nine years.”