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Chance encounter leads to another chance at life

Chance encounter leads to another chance at life

He was just doing his job checking on inmates at a work detail when he had a chance encounter. Fate led to a partnership that, by Robert Oliver's account, is nothing short of a heartwarming tale.

"One day we went down to the dog pound, the animal shelter, to check on an inmate squad that worked down there. We were walking down through there, looking at all of them and the next to the last dog pen is where she was at."

Escambia County Road Correctional Officer Robert Oliver knew he had made an incredible find. He wasn't looking for a dog but he sensed something special in a two year old German shepherd named Britt. Brought to the Escambia County Animal Shelter as a stray, she'd been adopted once and returned. Instinct told Robert that she was narcotics detection K9 material. He immediately went to talk to the sheriff's K9 trainers. "We took her over there and they tested her to see if she had the trainability. They said, if you didn't want her, we did."

Robert adopted Britt and on his own time and dime began training her for drug work. They bonded right off the bat and Britt has been proving her worth ever since. She's the lone drug dog on the Road Prison K9 unit. "We search for narcotics or anything that might be smuggled into a correctional facility."

Tamyra Jarvis is Escambia County's Director of Corrections; "They're just a great team. He has done a wonderful job working with her and it's obvious when you're out here and you see them working together, how much she's enjoying it."

This team has won much respect throughout the county and across the country. A dog of her qualifications would cost taxpayers anywhere from ten to thirteen thousand dollars. Sgt. Chad Sims is Assistant Shift Supervisor and a member of the Road Prison K9 Team. He introduced Robert to the K9 world with their tracking dogs and he shares in the pride over what Robert has accomplished. "Took her from nothing to where she's been to two competitions and in both competitions she's been at, she's placed. Brought home a plaque both times she's been in competition."

Their supervisor, Capt Kevin Barnes, says this K9 work is more than a notion; "He took this on, on his own; just like our other K9 officers have, took it on, on their on, it's because of that passion. That drive that they have and it is an extremely hard job to do."

Robert has to keep Britt trained up to stay U S K-9 Association certified. She doesn't seem to mind one bit. It's like she's doing what she was born to do. Or, maybe she's repaying the man who gave her a third chance at life. "It makes you proud. There ain't no denying that.."

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by the Studer Family Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart.

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