Camden County gets new drug dog, "Otis"

CAMDENTON, Mo. -- When Camden County Prosecutor Heather Miller started her job, the county had a K-9 Officer in Osage Beach.

Courtesy: Sheriff Tony Helms

But, the handler and K-9 retired, leaving the county without that tool.

So, they had to rely on neighboring counties' drug dogs.

"I noticed that I was making phone calls rather often and asking other officers to bring the dog in," Miller said.

That could cost investigators a lot of valuable time - sometimes several hours.

"Drugs are often consumed, so when you're dealing with a destruction of evidence argument, two hours can mean that case isn't there by the time your drug dog gets there," Miller added.

So, Miller reached out to Sheriff Tony Helms and suggested it was time to get a drug dog for the county.

"I don't think I talked to her more than 10 minutes that I was already on it having my people research and find an animal that we could purchase," Helms said.

They found Otis in North Carolina, selected Deputy Ryan Reed to be the handler, and sent him to meet and train along side the dog.

"He came back with awesome reports, said, 'Hey Sheriff, I'll brag a little bit, this is the best dog on the property,'" Helms recalled.

Otis is what Helms calls a passive alert drug dog.

That means he will sniff out heroin, meth, cocaine, marijuana, PCP, and MDMA. If he finds something, he will just sit until Deputy Reed takes possession of the drugs.

Otis has already made several busts in the month he's been in the county.

"Our goal is to get more [drugs] off the street," Helms said.

After buying Otis, paying for a temperature controlled back seat in a patrol car, and a kennel, it cost the county just under $15,000.

The money came from the County Law Enforcement Restitution Fund, not out of your pocket.

Instead, it's paid for by "the defendants he's helping find," Miller said. "So, it's appropriate."

The sheriff's office has Otis' handler doing additional narcotics training this week so Otis will be a benefit to the county for years to come.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.