On his first day on the job, Pacific’s newest drug-sniffing dog identified eight capsules of cocaine during a traffic stop.
Vito, a 2-year-old German sheperd Belgian Malinois mix, became the new partner of K9 Officer Sgt. Drew Whitman Dec. 1.
When Sgt. Whitman made the traffic stop, he asked the female driver if he could search the vehicle. The driver said it was not her car so she could not give permission to search it.
Sgt. Whitman then brought Vito to the driver’s side of the vehicle and he alerted that drugs were present.
“Once he alerted us that gave us probable cause so we could search the vehicle,” he said. “I returned Officer Vito to the patrol car and proceeded with the search. We found the eight beans, or capsules, in the female driver’s purse. It was a good first day.”
Vito replaces Yuki, a full-blooded German sheperd, who worked with Sgt. Whitman for six years. She was retired February 2016 after a career that included recovering $4 million in drugs and $385,000 in cash.
Vito was purchased from the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) for $6,500, which included $5,000 from the city and $1,500 from Paw Stoppers.
Sgt. Whitman spent one week at the NAPWDA training center with Vito where the pair became acquainted and Vito, already trained in obedience and narcotics, demonstrated his skills working with his new partner.
“As a K9 team, Sgt. Whitman and Vito will get more training than any other police officers,” Police Chief Matt Mansell said. “In addition to regular training they will train together two days every month and one full week each year.”
Vito is a skilled drug-sniffing dog, but also will be trained with articles.
“If a suspect tosses something away, Vito will be able to track it based on the individual’s scent,” Sgt. Whitman said.
Vito also will be trained to search for missing persons based on scent, he said.
Vito, a recognized police officer, also has his own passport that allows him to travel to Europe.