S. ANNVILLE TWP., Pa. - A Lebanon County man and his dog are working to ensure homes and businesses remain drug-free by alerting people to the presence of drugs.
Sadie is a Labrador/German Shepherd mix with a gift for locating drugs.
“She's not aggressive; she's very obedient,” said Fred Nell, Sadie’s handler and the founder of Drug Search Team. “She's very submissive; she knows her role well.”
Fred Nell started the Drug Search Team with Sadie to help families and businesses know whether or not drugs are around.
"I mark the places where Sadie alerts, then the family members do the searching itself,” Nell said. “I'm just a confirmation sometimes on what they're looking for or their concerns."
The team has no connection to law enforcement and is not obligated to report its findings to them.
For Nell's clients, he says they prefer the discretion.
“They don't want the cops to show up,” Nell said. “They don't want their neighbors to see the police in front of their house. They don't want someone to get arrested even though there's laws that allow those people to get the help they need. They want it discreet, they want professional and they want answers.”
There isn't much regulation in this line of work from the state or federal government, but Nell and Sadie are certified by a K-9 training program.
They say their detection services have been used to help keep recovering drug addicts from relapse, specifically at the Hope Rescue Mission in Reading.
“What people have to realize is we're alerting on a drug scent, then we're leaving,” Nell said. “We're just confirming the family, the business, the rescue mission, their concerns, or being a proactive measure to get them through a tough day.