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Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office's yellow lab is 1 of 4 electronic detection K-9s in Virginia

Pixel is trained to sniff out a chemical on memory storage devices like SIM cards and hard drives.

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. — Telling the difference between work and play might be hard if you’re looking at Sean Lacy’s daily routine.

Lacy, an investigator with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, has a new partner in crime that’s already made strides in her time with the agency: Pixel, a two-year-old yellow Labrador.

“She’s needy, but needy for attention,” Lacy laughed. “She comes into the office and makes sure everyone gives her her pets.”

But he’s the first to tell you, even the days that look like play are serious work with Pixel.

Pixel, acquired by the sheriff’s office in November, is one of four electronic detection K-9s in Virginia that’s trained to sniff out a chemical on memory storage devices like SIM cards and hard drives. Her keen sense of smell gives her the ability to find hidden electronics in a fraction of the time it might take investigators.

“Investigators may have found that device, but she did it more efficiently," Lacy said.

Since November, Lacy says Pixel has been deployed more than one dozen times across municipalities in the Hampton Roads region, from cases related to sexual abuse investigations to sex offender compliance checks and more.

“She’s located a couple key devices in a couple cases where the bad guys tried to hide," Lacy said. "We had one case where someone hid a phone in a Tupperware container and hid it in laundry, and she was able to find it.”

One of Pixel’s most recent successes is aiding in the arrest of a Portsmouth man on child pornography charges.

The partnership through the nonprofit organization Operation Underground Railroad allows Pixel to be with the sheriff's office at virtually no cost to the department itself.

At the end of the day, Lacy said, Pixel is like every other four-legged friend.

“She loves being a love bug,” he laughed.

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