Last week, North Haven Police arrested Christopher Riccitelli, 42, of 5 Monroe St., charging him with possession of narcotics and possession with intent to distribute narcotics.
The police were at the Monroe Street house because neighbors had complained about 'suspicious activity.' North Haven's narcotics Labrador retriever, Koda, and her handler, Officer Alan Cantele, searched the house during the arrest. Koda uncovered a package of heroin wrapped with tape inside a sealed plastic bag. Within that package, investigators found 60 individual bags of heroin.
And to think, this is 2 1/2-year-old Koda’s second career.
Koda started out as a Guiding Eyes for the Blind dog, which she had been training for since birth. At the age of 2, she was released from the Guiding Eyes program, and became a narcotics dog instead.
She finished her 11 weeks of narcotics-seeking training in May; five weeks with the state police and six weeks with Cantele.
“It’s a good opportunity to be chosen,” said Cantele, good for Koda and good for the North Haven Police.
Koda is trained to find marijuana, crack, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), and steroids. She can even find money used for drugs, if the cash is kept near narcotics.
“Every day she has to find drugs in order to eat,” Cantele said.
Her routine is to seek, smell, and sit. When she is told to “go to work,” Koda begins sniffing, seeking out the drugs. Her cue is to sit once she’s found something.
“It’s a simple concept,” said Cantele. “Seek, eat, happiness.”
In addition to the recent heroin bust, which Patch reported on last week, Koda has made several finds of drugs and drug paraphernalia at motor vehicle stops.
At the end of the day, Koda goes home with Officer Cantele to her family and another labrador.
“Once she’s all done working, she’s a regular dog.”