NEW MADRID, MO (KFVS) - The New Madrid County Sheriff's Officer has a new officer on the force and he's a first of his kind for the department.
Kazla is a 16-month-old Belgium Sheppard and newly sworn into the force as the county's first K-9 unit.
Kazla's handler Deputy Ruben White has been training with him for about a month and says he's a natural when it comes to sniffing out crime.
"Finding stuff for them is playtime and that's how they get satisfaction," White said. "He's got a nose for it."
In just his first two weeks on job, New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens said the dog has already assisted in three separate drug investigations.
"He's going to be a multi-dimensional officer," Stevens said. "We eventually hope to use him for tracking purposes whether an escaped suspect, a missing child, a lost hunter in the woods, those kinds of things."
In the past, the sheriff's department would have to rely on surrounding agencies for K-9 assistance.
Now, Stevens hopes to flip the script.
"We've got our own dog and we're going to make him available to surrounding agencies."
White and Kazla initially trained together for one week at K9 Working Dogs International in Longford, Kansas.
And they will continue to train a minimum of 16 hours a month as they set the bar for possible future K-9 use in the county.
"There's tremendous pressure there," White said.
But White said he's confident he and Kazla are up for the task.
"He's a tremendous asset, he's a tremendous partner," White said. "He's probably one of the best partners you could ask for."
Kazla came with an upfront price tag of about $15,000 for the county and will require an additional $5,000 in upkeep every year.
The sheriff said a $4,000 grant helped defray part of that cost.