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Retiring Dog Took a Bite Out of Crime

November 30, 2002|Jessica Garrison | Times Staff Writer

Cocaine and heroin he could deal with, but what really got him excited was marijuana.

Over the last seven years, Officer Krowbar, who retired to Riverside this week after a career as one of the most decorated dogs in the U.S. Customs Service, sniffed out more than 65,000 pounds of it in cars waiting to cross from Tijuana to San Diego.

His drive to find it was so intense, and so successful, that the Arellano Felix drug cartel, one of Mexico's deadliest, put a price of more than $20,000 on his head. But he kept sniffing them out.

Three years ago, the 85-pound Belgian Malinois was flown to Washington, D.C., and had his paw shaken by the customs commissioner.

"We have a lot of very successful narcotics dogs," said Vince Bond, spokesman for U.S. Customs in San Diego. "But this dog was just phenomenal."

During his tenure prowling among cars waiting at the San Ysidro checkpoint, Krowbar sniffed out 33 tons of drugs valued at $306 million.

But as he approached his 10th birthday, officials decided Krowbar had earned a rest. He recently moved from his kennel in an undisclosed location near the border to the home of his handler, Stephen Ralston, who lives near Riverside, Bond said.

This week, customs officials held a retirement party for him.

As his addiction to sniffing out drugs was extolled, Krowbar looked a bit bored, Bond said. But when a giant rawhide bone appeared as a retirement present, Bond said, "those ears perked up real fast."

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