NEW PORT RICHEY — At the news conference to laud her dedication and fine nose, Missy the drug-sniffing dog kept working, sniffing the ground, eyes roaming, searching.
"All she wants to do is work," said her handler, Detective Scott Grant of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Grant and Missy, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, were praised Monday for their investigation to find drugs being shipped in the mail. The investigation began in November at the request of Barney Morris, assistant inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the Tampa region.
"We knew we couldn't accomplish this by ourselves," said Morris, who said several other Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies have also been searching the mail. In Pasco, Grant and Missy searched post offices, mail warehouses and private shipping companies to find drugs. In seven months, the pair found 79 packages with drugs, totaling 343 pounds of marijuana, nearly 7 pounds of cocaine and 1.8 ounces of methamphetamine.
Grant also said most of the packages also had prescription pills tucked inside. Missy can't smell pills, but Grant said criminals usually don't send pills alone — there is usually marijuana or some other drug packaged with the pills. Grant and Missy also found $44,969 in cash.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office gets a portion of the money and, in the news conference, Morris handed a check for $13,122 to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. The money will go into a forfeiture account, and deputies use those funds to fight drugs, Nocco said. The investigation of drugs shipped by mail will continue, in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service.
"We are fighting the same criminals. We are all fighting the same war," Nocco said. "We are trying to save families."
Grant said Missy's favorite reward for finding drugs is a rolled up towel, which she gets to play with and shred. Missy looks like a petite, short-haired German shepherd. Missy is with Grant all day, every day. Missy lives with his family and three other dogs, two of which are retired canine officers. The other three dogs are Labrador retrievers, which are much more relaxed than Missy. Grant, 52, has to be careful because Missy will work and work until she becomes dangerously exhausted.
"It's a game to her," he said.
She doesn't relax much.
"She's really good at her job," Grant said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.