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Local K9 training organization adopts Virginia Beach shelter dog at risk of being euthanized

AK9I normally receives dogs for its training program from overseas breeders, but a local German Shepherd showed the drive necessary to become a service dog.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Beckham was too difficult for his previous owners to handle. Virginia Beach Animal Control workers said he could be difficult and aggressive. He was returned to the shelter twice.

"His outcome was very grim and euthanasia was a possibility," Animal Control supervisor Meghan Conti said.

In a last-ditch effort, a shelter employee contacted James Overton and AK9I -- a K9 training organization based in Isle of Wight County. After a few visits to the shelter, Overton said it was clear Beckham had the necessary drive to become an explosives or drug detection dog.

On Monday, Overton and AK9I adopted Beckham into the training program.

"We were basically his last hope because if we weren't going to take him they were going to have to euthanize him because he wasn't adoptable for a normal family," Overton said.

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Conti and Overton said Beckham, a two-year-old German Shepherd, just needs a purpose and an outlet for his energy. 

"To be able to take a dog like Beckham, relieve some of the pressure on this shelter and then see him work out - it's going to be phenomenal to see," Overton said.

It is rare to find dogs with the necessary drive for detection work at local shelters, but Beckham is not alone.

Trainer Emily Stine adopted and trained K9 Annie at AK9I after Annie was returned to a different local shelter.

"She was initially supposed to be euthanized until AK9I took her," Stine said. "So I always like to say Anastasia was meant to be destroyed because somebody said she couldn't do it -- and in our line of work she's going to be someone's second chance at life."

On his last day at the shelter, Beckham cooled off in a small kiddie pool before Overton took him to the AK9I training facility in Isle of Wight County. 

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