Two new deputies have hit the streets of Clay County in North Carolina.
They each have four legs, are too small to carry guns and will work for treats.
Meet Sarah and Phantom, two rescued pit bulls trained to be K-9 dogs for the Clay County Sheriff’s Department.
Sarah came from a shelter in New York where she had waited a year in vain for a new home. Phantom, a pit bull mixed with Boston terrier, came from a shelter in Texas.
Never miss a local story.
They are not the typical breeds — German shepherds and Belgian Malinois — pressed into police duty, but that’s the point, the department said.
The dogs joined the department through a grant from the Animal Farm Foundation of New York and Universal K9 of San Antonio. The two groups work together to save pit bulls from shelters and train them to become police dogs.
“They want to show the country and the world the loving and caring nature that most of us have experienced with our (pit bulls) and show that the pound puppies have what it takes to go up against and sometimes exceed their expensive pure breed cousins,” the department wrote in a Facebook post introducing the dogs last week.
Animal Farm and Universal K9 have paired pit bulls with law enforcement departments across the country. In 2015 a dog named Kiah, rescued from a shelter in Texas, became the first pit bull police dog in the state of New York.
When Universal K9 found her, Kiah was recovering from a head injury — someone had hit her in the head with a hammer. She turned out to be a fast learner and found a job with the Poughkeepsie police department.
“They’re just good, good dogs. The Achilles’ heel is the stigma,” Universal K9’s Brad Croft told CBS News.
Sarah and Phantom and their new human partners were recently trained together. Now the dogs are certified to detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
One of the pit bulls that trained with them was Storm, a pit bull rescued from the jaws of euthanasia. She will be working with police searching for narcotics in schools in Ferris, Texas.
“Basically we give them a second chance at life,” said Sgt. John Julin with the Ferris Independent School District police department. “They’re just as good as $30,000 dollar dogs that you would get imported from overseas.”
Julin hopes Storm will not only be a deterrent but a friend to the students, he told CBS DFW in Dallas.
“The two foundations have taken on the mission to show that Departments do not need to spend ($15,000 to) $20,000 for a pure breed German Shepard or Belgian Malinois to search and find illegal drugs,” the Clay County sheriff’s department wrote on Facebook.
The dogs will never be used to apprehend criminals or anything requiring bite work, the department said, a rule set down by Animal Farm and Universal K9.