Atlanta GA July 11 2017 Parents worried that their child is using drugs can now hire trained K-9s to search their home for everything from heroin to pot.
We talked to a father whose son recently died after battling a heroin addiction. He told us he wishes he could have used the K-9s years ago to help his son.
As a young boy, Andrew Ward loved basketball, football and baseball.
“He was a good person. He was down to earth. He, he’d do anything for you. He loved kids,” said TJ Ward, his father.
But Andrew’s life took a turn at age 15. His dad said Andrew started running with the wrong crowd, smoking pot, getting into trouble with the cops and eventually got hooked on heroin.
Andrew wanted to quit. He moved into a halfway house to get clean, but in early June TJ got the call he’d been dreading.
“I find out that my son was at a hospital, unresponsive and shortly thereafter had passed away,” he said.
TJ is waiting on autopsy results which will tell him exactly how Andrew died at age 31.
Parents who think their child has a problem can hire K9s trained just like Ajax, a Lilburn police K-9, to search their home for drugs.
“Blaze is a German shepherd. He’s about 2 years old,” said Stealth Vigilance COO Geoff Beckwith. He and another former police officer, Kyle Breischaft, started the company in Raleigh, North Carolina, to help families like TJ’s.
Before searching a home, they do a walk-through of the area Blaze will check out.
“All right, we’ll just go right upstairs,” said Breischaft, who is Stealth Vigilance’s CEO.
Blaze searched three rooms, finding drugs in a bookshelf in a child’s bedroom, in a couch in a den, and inside a dresser in the parent’s bedroom.
Beckwith said people get creative hiding their drugs.
“Outlet plates or in air vents or in shoe boxes in a closet,” he said.
But Blaze’s nose can quickly sniff out pot, heroin, meth and painkillers hidden in the house or in a teenager’s car.
The dog’s handler can then test the drugs to find out what they are.
“As a private company, we are not required to report any of the drugs that we do find,” said Beckwith. That lets parents decide what to do next. “I’m able to talk to these parents as a parent and really just help them through that emotionally. They’re very thankful for it. And I can understand why because when you see someone’s life crashing because of drugs it’s very said,” said Beckwith.
TJ told us he wishes he had access to a K-9 search.
“If we’d had these types of resources back three or four years ago when Andrew even was living here, I would’ve utilized their service,” said TJ.
The way Andrew’s life ended breaks his heart.
“I couldn’t save him. I guess that’s what bothers me,” TJ said.
The K-9 can search a 2,500-square-foot house in one to two hours. It costs $150. Stealth Vigilance told us they do about eight searches involving kids a month. They also search homes for husbands and wives who suspect their spouse is using drugs.