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To improve public relations, deputies hand out trading cards of dogs and their handlers.
By JAMIE JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 4, 2003
Ben is from Hungary and likes to find explosives. Asko is from Germany and enjoys taking down bad guys. Sam is good at finding evidence. And K.T., a friendly blond, spends her days looking for marijuana in teenagers' lockers.
These dogs and three others -- Niklas, Quik and Fox -- are part of the canine unit at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. And they now are featured, along with their human partners, on a set of trading cards that the deputies will pass out to thousands of students during the coming year.
K.T.'s partner, Cpl. Scott Grant, said the agency received a $1,800 grant from Purina to print the cards. He said the cards reinforce an antidrug message and also should make students and parents feel like they know the deputies better.
"People love these cards," Grant said.
He and other canine deputies began passing out the cards last week at schools. Last year, the deputies introduced their dogs to more than 27,000 students in demonstrations at schools and recreational events, Grant said. All of the dogs are German shepherds except for K.T., who is a Labrador.
Grant got the idea for the cards from North Carolina deputies. He then approached Purina, and the company agreed to pay printing costs.
Each of the seven cards has a picture of a deputy and his dog, taken by the agency's forensics department. On the back, each card contains a brief biographical sketch of the deputy and the dog. And each card has a personal message.
"I smell drugs because they stink. If you do drugs, you will stink, too!" canine Niklas says. "Make good choices today so you will have a bright tomorrow," canine K.T. said.
The Sheriff's Office has never before printed trading cards. Several years ago, the Port Richey Fire Department handed out free cards that featured local firefighters to serve as role models.
Grant said each deputy received about 2,000 cards and Purina might agree to print more.
"We want kids to make good decisions," Grant said. "If this helps them, it's worth it."
-- Jamie Jones covers crime in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.