Pet, second wife, drug dog — a black lab named IZZY answers to all of those titles.
IZZY inherited the job as drug dog for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office after the department’s former K-9, another black lab named Colt, left with his handler and owner. That was deputy Bill Kennedy, who resigned last year to take a job in the oil business.
IZZY is a 2-year-old female owned by deputy James Stroope, who had experience with a K-9 as a Comanche police officer. Stroope became a Brown County deputy in October.
IZZY was trained as a drug dog at a Leander K-9 academy, and another sheriff’s deputy, David Varner, bought her in May. Varner was Izzy’s handler until Stroope expressed interest in buying her and taking over K-9-handling duties.
Last week, Brown County Commissioners approved payment for a $569.40 vet bill from the Brown County Animal Clinic. IZZY had been treated for a virus, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs told commissioners, and if the bill seemed high, he said, IZZY earned her keep by sniffing out drugs.
“She’ll alert on drugs at a routine stop we might not otherwise catch,” Grubbs said.
Besides the vet bill, the county pays very little toward the dog’s care and feeding, explained Bobby Duvall, chief deputy to Grubbs.
“I guess we didn’t know about her because she’s not on payroll,” said Brown County Judge Ray West.
Duvall also explained that K-9’s can be trained in a variety of ways to assist law enforcement, but that IZZY was a “drug dog only.”
“She’s a sweet, docile dog. We can take her when we’re doing programs with kids and they can pet her and hug her,” Duvall said. “But she’s trained to sniff out drugs and alert on those.”
“She’s coming along,” Stroope said. “She’s made improvements — leaps and bounds.”
IZZY is trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, and Stroope works with her daily. “It’s ongoing, constant training to keep them up on their toes and be the best that they can be, … and get us as much dope as we can,” Stroope said.
“If I’m working, she’s working,” Stroope said. “She’s got to earn her paycheck, just like I earn mine. IZZY lives with the Stroope family, where she has become an “extremely good” pet to his two children. “We go on vacation, she goes with us. It’s a partnership. It’s a mix between having a kid and a second wife,” he said.
IZZY has already proven she can do the job. A week or two after she teamed up with Stroope, he made a traffic stop on a speeding vehicle. Stroope smelled marijuana, and IZZY “alerted,” resulting in the seizure of marijuana and $1,251 in cash, and an arrest.
A week later, IZZY alerted on a vehicle, and deputies seized 2 pounds of narcotics and arrested two, Stroope said.
He said he is an “adrenaline junkie.” There is no bigger adrenaline rush, Stroope said, than having IZZY alert on a vehicle with drugs, because that might mean keeping drugs out of a child’s hands.
Grubbs said the K-9 is “another tool that we use in drug enforcement. Anything we can do to stop dope from coming into this county, we’re going to do. This has some real prospects of being a real good program.”