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Popsicle the Pit Bull becomes drug buster

DURING AN investigation of reports of gunfire in 1997, a Buffalo police officer opened an abandoned refrigerator and found a black garbage bag. He poked the bag with his flashlight and something in the bag started moving. At first he thought that there was a baby inside the bag. The ‘baby’ turned out to be a five month old puppy, an American Pit Bull Terrier.

After recovering from bite wounds on his head and neck, hypothermia, and dehydration at the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals decided that the puppy – now named Popsicle – would be selected as a possible candidate for the U.S. Customs Service canine enforcement programme. Popsicle joined the ranks of other dogs nobody else wanted: dogs that dig up back yards, chew furniture, and are constantly on the go. Just the sort of dog Customs is looking for.

At the end of his training at the Canine Enforcement Training Centre in Front Royal, Va., Popsicle went with his handler, J.J. Trevino, to work at the Pharr and Hidalgo bridges in Texas. While working at the Pharr bridge, Popsicle alerted to drugs in a tractor trailer. It turned out to be a ton and a half of cocaine with a street value of $139,605,000, the largest cocaine seizure in the McAllen area in 10 years.

Popsicle and J.J. worked together for a couple of months before Popsicle was returned to Front Royal for additional training. At Front Royal, he was teamed with Rudy Carr, a handler looking for a new canine partner.

Popsicle and Rudy graduated and went to work at the Port of Roma, Texas. While working in Roma, Popsicle made 24 seizures of Marijuana: 12,080 pounds with a street value of $640,000; one cocaine seizure of 148 pounds worth $6,719,200; and two currency seizures with a total value of $65,144.

Popsicle and Rudy have done more than work hard detecting drugs, they've also made numerous public relations and outreach appearances. Popsicle is a dog who overcame his abusive start in life and had his chance to get back at the crooks. Ironically, Pit Bulls are a breed associated with drug pushers and other criminals, although Popsicle has done plenty to change this image drastically. While working at Roma, Popsicle suffered a career-ending injury to his knee - an injury that required surgery. Popsicle is now retired and is living a life of leisure at Rudy's house. ‘Only we know that he's a pit bull,’ says Carr, ‘he thinks he's a cocker spaniel.’