A rescued dog that was days away from being euthanized at a shelter recently found a new role sniffing out drugs for the Town of Addis Police Department, and over the weekend aided in a significant drug bust.
Sentry, a 3-year-old mixed pit bull, joined the department last month through a program offered by the Animal Farm Foundation, a national organization that takes in dogs from shelters, sets them up with training and finds them homes within local police departments.
Addis Police Chief Ricky Anderson said Sentry has been on duty only for the past two weeks and has already proven useful in the line of duty.
On Sunday morning, she was called on to sniff around a car that later led to the seizure of nearly nine pounds of heroin — estimated to be worth $1 million — following a traffic stop along Interstate 10 near Port Allen, according to State Police.
Authorities arrested Jerry Mosley, of Slidell, on suspicion of felony drug sale counts, as well as resisting arrest after he reportedly fled from law officers.
The grant paid for Sentry's training in detecting drugs, but she won't be used, like traditional narcotics dogs, for chasing down suspects.
"If she catches up with you, she'll lick you," said Sentry's handler, Officer Allen Connelly. "She's completely non-aggressive."
With festive hats and special doggy cupcakes, the therapy dogs of the New Orleans airport celebrated a big day.
He said the nonprofit rescued her from a Chicago area shelter days before she was set to be euthanized. Since joining the department and Connolly's home, she's assisted him on a handful of recent drug busts, he said.
The Addis Police Department hasn't had a K-9 in some 20 years, mainly due to the time and costs, Anderson said.
Wes Keeling, who received grant money to train and find a home for Sentry at his Dallas-area company, Sector K-9, said the program benefits small departments like Addis that can't always afford the steep price tag for training dogs.
"I wouldn't have even considered it," Anderson said. "I would not have spent $30- to $40,000 on my budget, and the town probably would not have given it to me for this."
The dogs are heavily screened for aggressive behavior and tested whether they'll be able to handle the police work.
Keeling said many of the dogs the Animal Farm Foundation work with are taken from so-called "kill shelters" that euthanize animals. The nonprofit said it’s placed more than 70 dogs in police departments and schools across the country.
"The dogs get a second chance," Keeling said.