July 25--NEW PORT RICHEY -- Missy, a drug-sniffing dog with high energy and laser-sharp focus, has been making life difficult for drug dealers who ply their trade through the mail.
Between November and June, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office dog ferreted out 79 packages containing drugs that dealers had hoped to slip past postal inspectors.
The haul included 343.43 pounds of marijuana, 6.62 pounds of cocaine, 1.8 ounces of methamphetamine and $44,969 in cash.
"She's not interested in making friends," said Missy's handler, Detective Scott Grant. "She's interested in finding drugs."
Missy is a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois. She has been with the sheriff's office for about four years, but it was just last year that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service approached the sheriff's office asking for help.
Barney Morris of the Postal Inspection Service said his office realized there had been a significant upswing in the amount of drug trafficking taking place through the mail and something needed to be done.
"We knew we couldn't accomplish this ourselves," he said.
In addition to the Pasco sheriff's office, the postal inspectors are working with the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and several smaller law enforcement agencies, Morris said.
He has been impressed with Missy's work.
"It's amazing how proficient these dogs are in detecting the narcotics," Morris said.
On Monday, Morris gave Sheriff Chris Nocco a check for $13,122, which was the sheriff's office's share of the proceeds from drug seizures that are divided among agencies involved in the investigations.
Nocco said the money will be placed in the office's forfeiture fund and used for more crime-fighting efforts. Missy herself was purchased using the forfeiture fund.
That was when she was 2. She underwent about eight to 10 weeks of training and has been a bane to drug dealers ever since.
"She thinks every time she gets out of the car she's looking for narcotics," Grant said.
Copyright 2012 - Tampa Tribune, Fla.