RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Four Belgian Malinois puppies born following a raid of a Richmond boarding facility are getting a special assignment with the Richmond Police Department.
The 12-week-old puppies were donated by Richmond Animal Care & Control to the department's K-9 unit to be trained as narcotic dogs.
"They would be passive narcotic dogs sniffing for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and meth," said Sergeant Stuart Hannah with the K-9 unit.
This is a unique situation for the Richmond Police K-9 unit.
They typically get the dogs when they are at least one-year-old, and ready to start the training program.
"There are things we can learn from them by trying to build them early on," Hannah said. "That's the thought process for us."
"We've never done it before," said Christie Chipps Peters, Director of RACC. "They're little, I know you're taking a risk, but we will assume all of that."
Four-month-old Lilo, Stormy, Lexi and Ivy, all females, are breaking the barrier, and saving taxpayer money because of being donated by RACC.
"If we go through a vendor, it can cost anywhere from $5,000-$7,000 for a dog," Hannah said.
"Richmond Animal Care and Control provides anything monetary," Peters said. "All of the food, all of the vaccines, anything these dogs need in their care until they are tested and are proven will remain in our care so that the police department doesn't have to shoulder any of that burden."
A total of seven puppies were born out of an abusive situation following a raid of the Animal Motel owned by Joseph Meyers.
"We did an ownership petition through the court and were granted custody," Peters said. "We've been caring for them ever since."
Peters said Meyers faces charges of animal cruelty and failing to provide care, however RACC is still searching for Meyers in order to officially serve him those charges.
"It's so beautiful that we removed them from a really bad situation and then they may become dogs that will help in the future to control other bad situations," Peters said.
"[We will] hopefully develop it early with them," Hannah said. "Introduce them to some scents, work on their hunting drive."
Hannah said right now they're working on simple tugging techniques to get the puppies to focus on a task.
"They're sassy," Peters said. "For people who have never had a Mali or don't understand the reality of those dogs, they are like German Shepherds with the volume turned up to 1,000."
"Right now they're just being goofy puppies," Hannah said. "It's too early to tell what kind of potential they'll have."
Hannah said when they're 6 to 8-months-old they'll start to see which of the four are seeing "the drive" to work with different techniques that will eventually lead them to the schooling program.
The puppies also have their Instagram account.
Anyone with information on Meyers's whereabouts is urged to contact RACC at 804-646-5754.
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