NEW K9

Front Royal Police Department officer Olivia Meadows poses with her new K-9 partner, the 15-month-old black Labrador Maverick, who began duty Oct. 31.

FRONT ROYAL - Maverick, the Front Royal Police Department’s newest K-9 officer, left a good impression upon his co-workers on his first day at work.

A 15-month-old black Labrador, Maverick’s first night was Oct. 31, when he detected 7 grams of marijuana in a vehicle. Front Royal K-9 Handler Olivia Meadows, Maverick’s partner, said that he has remained busy since then and has located drugs about 15 times.

Maverick, who was born in Hungary, met Meadows at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, where she said it was love at first sight.

She said the two bonded immediately, and coupled with his impressive drug detection skills, selecting Maverick as her new partner was an easy decision.

After training with the kennel for a month and with Meadows for another month, Maverick came to Front Royal to begin working.

Maverick is used strictly as a drug detection dog, and Meadows said if she has the right to be on the scene, he has the right to perform a “free air sniff” by “solely using his nose” and nothing else.

She said signs that Maverick smells drugs include him becoming “locked in on that area,” showing a “change in sniffing behavior,” aggressively tail wagging or sitting down. If he alerts to drugs during a free air sniff, she said a search warrant would be necessary unless it is during a traffic stop.

She said drugs that he is trained to detect include marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, crack, cocaine and methamphetamine. Upon having a successful search, she said Maverick is rewarded with a “gifty ball” toy, which is a ball attached to a string.

Being less aggressive than pointy-eared K-9 officers, Meadows said Maverick could also be useful in locating drugs on people without becoming aggressive.

While Maverick is all business at work, Meadows said he is a completely different dog at home and often seen running from room to room with a toy or enjoying time with Piper, her personal Labradoodle pet.

While Maverick is a great worker, Meadows said he sometimes still acts like a puppy and can be “a bit of a stinker.” One day in the parking lot of the police department, she explained that she went inside for a quick visit and upon her return, some of the vehicle’s lights were on.

Maverick had crawled into the front seat, located the gifty ball and returned to his usual location in the back. When Meadows asked what Maverick was doing, he immediately returned the toy.

Meadows said time spent with Maverick so far has been “an amazing journey” and “he’s quickly become my best friend.”

Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com