[Fox News] Texas shelter dog becomes impressive police K-9 as he combats fentanyl crisis

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A shelter dog has found a new mission in life as a drug-sniffing police K-9 — a transformation that took place just months after the pup was rescued from the streets of Fort Worth, Texas.

“If you talk to me in five years, I guarantee you we’re going to have kilos of records to reflect his service to the city,” Sgt. Charles Hubbard of the Fort Worth Police Department told Fox News Digital.

Rock, a long and dark-coated German shepherd mix, is part of narcotics detection operations that have taken hundreds of thousands of pills off the streets — making him a vital tool in combating today’s fentanyl crisis.

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“I’m talking 20,000, 100,000, 500,000 pills off the street before they ever get out into our community,” Hubbard said of the role narcotics detection K-9s play in law enforcement.

Last summer, then-six-month-old Rock was found wandering around the city with his sister. 

The dogs were brought to the Fort Worth Animal Control’s Chuck & Brenda Silcox Animal Care & Adoption Center, where shelter superintendent Anastasia Ramsey recognized that the two pups were special.

“We took them out in the yard, and we did some tennis ball exercises where we tossed the ball to see if they had any interest,” Ramsey said — adding that she and her team tossed the dogs treats to see if they were able to “learn things quickly.”

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“Rock passed with flying colors,” she said. 

“He just blew everything out of the water.”

Ramsey’s own husband is a K-9 police officer with the Dallas Police Department, so she said she’s aware of what law enforcement is looking for in a K-9 dog.

She recorded videos of Rock and his sister — and the team from Fort Worth Police Department then took the pair for a two-week trial.

“Anastasia [Ramsey] has got a good eye,” Hubbard said. 

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“She knows the traits that we’re looking for … We trusted what she was evaluating out there and everything that she believed proved true because both Rock and his sister completed narcotics training,” Hubbard said.

The officers decided that with Rock’s high energy and high prey-and-hunt drive, the pup would definitely be a fit and would excel. 

“You want a dog that’s going to want to go to work every day,” Hubbard said. 

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“And I’ll tell you what, every time I get him out of the car, and even when he’s at home off duty — when he comes out of his kennel, he’s sniffing.”

Hubbard said Rock wants to sniff cars, boxes — anything he can get his nose on. 

“That’s the most desired trait — that you don’t have to work your dog up,” Hubbard said. “You’re not always saying, ‘Buddy, let’s go, let’s go.’ You just get him out, and he’s ready to go.”

Rock’s sister, Jade, while just as smart, turned out to have a softer personality. She was placed as a school resource K-9.

“Rock is super friendly, very fun-loving,” Ramsey said. 

“He seems to enjoy working. He has a lot of energy. And so, pairing those types of dogs with someone who can give them something to do, like a police department, is instrumental in making sure that we set those dogs up for success,” she said.

Rock continued to show his skills. He soon went to work with Hubbard as his handler in a specialized segment of narcotics called K-9 interdiction. 

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Dogs in this unit do not apprehend suspects, but work strictly as sniffers to find drugs and contraband.

“In the particular unit we are in, we are task force officers with Homeland Security,” Hubbard said. 

“So we’re federal agents under Customs and Border Patrol,” Hubbard added. 

“Besides the southern border, international shipments are where both the base opioids are coming through as well as the finished pills.”

Hubbard and Rock can be found on duty at any distribution facility — such as UPS, FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service — checking out bulk shipments.

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“If [we] don’t work the bulk side and have a K-9 that can tell you, ‘Hey, there’s 100,000 pills in this box,’ we’re just never going to know,” Hubbard said. 

“And once that hits the street and starts getting dispersed, you’re going to have mass overdoses, and then you’re behind the eight ball — you can’t catch up. So, plainly, we can’t do this job without a K-9 like him. It’s the most effective way for us to combat fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, all of it.”

Rock also has discovered fentanyl in the field on traffic stops, had cocaine alerts in storage facilities and made multiple marijuana finds, Hubbard said.

At the end of a hard day’s work, Hubbard takes Rock home to his family and to his other two dogs, one of whom is a retired police K-9.

“All of our dogs go home with us,” Hubbard said. 

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“We spend more time with our K-9s than we do with our family because we’re at home with them all the time on the weekends, and then they go to work with us,” he said.

Hubbard said he hopes Rock’s story inspires other police departments to give their local shelters a look when trying to identify a K-9.

“Three of our six K-9s are shelter rescues now,” Hubbard. 

“I don’t know that you’ll find another unit [in which] half of their K-9 makeup are rescues.”

Ramsey said she sees it as a win-win situation.

“It’s a double positive,” she said. 

“[It’s] for the dogs and the image of shelter pets. Maybe for someone who thinks, ‘Oh, shelter dogs — they’re not what I’m looking for. I want something that can do X, Y and Z’ — well, shelter dogs, in most cases, can do that, too.”

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