AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A new canine has taken on his role with the Potter County Sheriff's Office.
His name is Nico and he's a Belgian Malinois with lots of energy.
And he's a bit different than your average law enforcement canine, but that won't stop him or his handler from busting criminals in Potter County.
Nico is replacing Paris, the previous narcotics canine who acquired cancer, and is now enjoying retired life with her old handler.
But Nico is a bit different in that he wasn't specifically bred for law enforcement like many other canines. He was a family dog who was in and out of shelters, as he tended to escape the yard quite a bit.
"We actually went with our supervisors, within like 45 minutes met with this dog, fell in love with the dog at first sight and actually purchased the dog for myself and said even if we don't use it as a service dog, I would love to rescue this dog and have him as a part of my family," says Nico's Handler Deputy Joshua Newlun.
But because Nico hadn't been trained in narcotics detection, the responsibility fell on Newlun. He tells us it's an in-depth process to bring a family pet into a working environment.
Newlun traveled to California to get the proper training, to allow Nico to be certified as a narcotics canine, by two national registries.
"All of our training is geared towards meeting those requirements so that we can be accountable," says Newlun. "It's probable cause, so we take it very seriously that the dog actually performs on a level that establishes probable cause recognized by the courts. It maintains integrity in our department and the way we do our job."
Newlun says the number of stops varies, but he always stays busy. Some weeks they use their dogs as many as five times with call outs and assisting other agencies.
"Obviously, as we've seen on the news, we have a major drug problem on the highway and that doesn't just affect drugs. Drugs are often associated with other serious crimes in our area, whether it's burglaries or robberies, different theft crimes. Lots of different things are associated with narcotics. It's just another means that we can use to detect narcotic odors and be able to stop criminals before they affect our community."
Nico continues his training, and is expected go out on his first call starting in March.