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Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office welcomes new K9 officers

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TAZEWELL COUNTY (WVVA) -- Law enforcement in the Commonwealth are making adjustments to the decriminalization of marijuana.

The Tazewell County Sheriff's Office welcomed its new additions, K9s Bea and Reni. Unlike other K9s, these two aren't trained to sniff out marijuana.

"You could potentially lose a case because [an ounce or less of] marijuana is now decriminalized," explained Major Harold Heatley. "So in order to not have any cases go bad, we decided to sell our other dogs, obtain donations, and get two new dogs who are not imprinted with marijuana."

These dogs are still a valuable asset to law enforcement in Tazewell County, though. They went through seven weeks of training with their handlers in Michigan - learning detection of other drugs, like methamphetamines, heroin, and cocaine.

"It's no secret that we deal with a lot of narcotic issues," said Cody Rowe, Reni's handler at the Sheriff's Office. "For us, it's probably the best tool we have to detect that on traffic stops, or even in houses for search warrants."

Along with drugs, the dogs can find bad guys. Their long list of certifications includes tracking and aggression.

"The dog picks up the scent, and when he does, he goes to work," Rowe explained. "He takes us, usually, right to them, or at least within a close proximity."

Funding to provide the new K9s came from Tazewell County's Commonwealth's Attorney and the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors.

Jade Burks

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