When this dog arrived at the Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter last October it was immediately clear that she had been the victim of abuse – it was written all over her face. At just under a year old she weighed only 27 lbs., less than half the ideal weight for a German Shepherd her age. There was a deep, open wound circling her muzzle where someone had tried to keep it shut.
*THE SHELTER SEES THE SCARRING AND BODY CONDITION. We are simply trying to get answers and locate an potential owner….
Whatever had been there long enough that scar tissue had grown over it. Shelter staff wasn’t sure if they had used wire, rope, or rubber bands, all they knew was that someone had hurt her, but she was safe now. She maintained a sweet demeanor despite her ordeal. Off to a new beginning and a brighter future, the staff named her Nova.
During this time the Geary County Sheriff’s Department had been discussing the possibility of adding a second K-9 team to their department. By choosing a shelter dog they thought could do it at no cost to taxpayers. Detective Bradley Rose had experience as a dog trainer and handler, and K-9 Handler Sgt. Chris Ricard could offer the knowledge he had gained through 19 weeks of K-9 handler training. Lt. Justin Stopper would be the handler. They believed that between the three of them, they could train and have a dog certified for work with their department.
Stopper told WIBW, “We looked at vendors and we decided that maybe we could give a dog a chance that maybe hadn’t had the best life.”
When the officers visited the Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter, Nova was not available to adopt. She was still recovering, and staff was trying to bring her weight up slowly. But because the officers were looking for a non-aggressive dog for drug detection and search and rescue, shelter director Vanessa Gray asked them to give Nova a chance. According to Lt. Stopper, it was love at first sight.
“Immediately I fell in love.”
Nova and Lt. Stopper spent some time getting to know each other, riding around while officers tried to decide whether she would be a good fit for the Sheriff’s Department. Nova took to the job quickly, and formed a strong bond with her new handler and friend. She learned quickly, and just four months after she was found, on March 19th – Lt. Stopper’s birthday – Nova earned her certifications in narcotics detection and tracking!
Once discarded like trash, Nova has become a treasure to Lt. Stopper and the rest of the Geary County Sheriff’s Department. They’re proud of how far she has come, what she has accomplished, and the great things she’ll do in the future.
“It’s just a constant reminder of what a dog can achieve when given the chance.”
Featured Photo: Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter
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