West Virginia K-9 units on the front lines of war on drugs - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia K-9 units on the front lines of war on drugs

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BECKLEY -

Police officers are on the front lines in the fight against drugs in the mountain state... and that includes police dogs.  These dogs are specially trained to sniff out drugs and other dangers.

Sgt. Havens and 6-year-old Marco have been a team for almost 5 years now.  They live together, travel together, and spend everyday on the job together.  We learned first hand what it's like to work with one of these Belgian Shepherds.

"All our dogs will close their mouths, close their mouths when they get close to the odor so it's all coming through their nose, and their breathing will start to increase and Marco in particular licks. If you go look, he licked all around that gas cap," said Havens after Marco sniffed out some marijuana on a vehicle.

These dogs spend a significant amount of their time looking for drugs on the roadways in West Virginia.  But they're also out sniffing around places you might not expect a lot of drugs to be.

"We know it's an epidemic. I would hope that if the general public knew we were here and that we found things... I hope that it would concern them and they'd want to do something about it," said Havens.

"In an effort to curb the drug problem with the young people in our state, most schools will bring drug dogs in several times throughout the school year so the children know the severity of bringing drugs to school," said Havens.

"I think if students and faculty and family members hear about it afterwards, and know that we're going to show up at a moments notice in an effort to curb it I would hope that it could start with more self-policing at home and maybe do something about it that way," Havens said.

The state police has 16 dog and man teams to serve all 55 counties.  In 2012, the dogs were responsible for more than 25-hundred narcotics searches.  They spent almost 7,000 hours in service last year - that's about 300 solid days of searching between the dogs.  They also spent almost 4 thousand hours just training.