K-9 Bodi retires from BCSO drug unit

Published 1:03 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Golfing, vacationing, starting a new hobby or playing more pickleball is what some people look forward to in their retirement – a life of rest and relaxation after dedicating decades of their lives to working. For K-9 Bodi, rest and relaxation are the last things he wants out of his retirement from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Drug Unit. He wants to continue working, so says his handler Lt. Joshua Shiflett in the Special Operations Division. 

Bodi is a nine-year-old, 65lbs, Belgian Malinois who worked in the drug unit for six years with Shiflett. He describes Bodi as an “adventurous, energetic and impatient ulta alpha male and free spirit” with a strong intuition. 

Bodi’s retirement officially began last week when Shiflett purchased him for $1 from the sheriff’s office. The purchase was part of an agreement between Shiflett and the sheriff’s office and is a customary practice for K-9 units when they retire a dog. The purchase signifies Bodi going into Shiflett’s care for the remainder of his life. 

According to the National Police Association, there are roughly 50,000 police dogs working across the United States. Not all of them are trained to detect controlled substances like Bodi; some dogs are trained for apprehension, bomb detection, locating dead bodies, tracking lost children or escaped prisoners. They are also used for public relations efforts at schools and community events. Local law enforcement agencies can expect to spend between $5,000 to $20,000 to purchase and train a dog. 

On average, dogs who assist drug units spend six to eight years of their lives working, Shiflett said. 

He and Bodi started working together in the fall of 2017 after graduating from Southern Police Canine, Inc. training facility in Nashville, North Carolina. Bodi was trained to detect the presence of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. 

A common misconception with dogs who assist drug units is that they are exposed to narcotics to get a scent from them. 

Instead, training facilities will use scented canvas bags that have an odor of real controlled substances that is imprinted on a dog. For example, a protected sample of marijuana would be placed in a small plastic bag then placed inside a canvas bag. The canvas bag absorbs the marijuana odor for dogs to sniff then alert their handlers, Shiflett shared. 

Shiflett believes a well trained dog in a drug unit can be a return on investment for a law enforcement agency. 

“The great thing about the K-9 programs is that the initial investment – you will get that back tenfold in many cases if the dog is being utilized properly and has the proper training,” Shiflett said. “When you get out there and you seize drugs – money and developed revenue streams from his work – that money comes back into the agency which is like the only tool that has a return on it. Everything else in law enforcement just costs money.” 

Bodi’s work contributed to BCSO’ drug seizure fund. Money going into the fund comes from taxes associated with certain amounts of drugs. 

In North Carolina, those convicted of a drug offense are expected to pay a certain amount of tax related to the amount of narcotics in their possession.  

“If a person is in possession of the minimum amount, then he or she is obligated to pay taxes on that substance within 48 hours of when it first came into his or her possession (excluding weekends and holidays), pursuant to the statutory rate schedule (e.g., $50 per gram of cocaine, or $12.80 per gallon of liquor not sold by the drink),” according to Jonathan Holbrook with the University of North Carolina School of Government. 

Holbrook continued to write that very few people pay these taxes which is why  laws on imposing taxes on “unauthorized substances” are used “primarily as a mechanism to pursue civil forfeiture of a defendant’s assets after he or she is convicted of a drug offense.” 

Bodi has worked on numerous cases, and in the last year he has worked on two large drug busts. 

In January, Bodi helped uncover approximately 29 grams of cocaine, 250 grams of marijuana, digital scales and packaging material used to package controlled substances, according to BCSO. This led to the arrest of a 33-year-old man in Washington. 

The previous month, investigators and Bodi found 32 grams of cocaine, 214 Fentanyl Pills, 114 Oxycodone pills, marijuana, digital scales, two pistols and $2,990 in US currency, according to BCSO. This led to the arrest of a 29-year-old man in Washington. 

The transition into retirement will be an adjustment for Bodi, because he loves his job and wants to work. 

“I would say that sometimes he is a little anxious, because he wants to work so bad,” Shiflett said. “That happens a lot with these, because they’re so geared towards it. I try to give him as much exercise as I can so he can relax.” 

Bodi will now spend his days adjusting to being a normal dog – getting treats, going on more walks playing with toys and the Shiflett’s bulldog. 

While working, Bodi was not allowed to have regular dog treats because his treat was either recovering a scented canvas bag or finding narcotics in the field. 

The goal now is to “spoil” Bodi with a “fun life” that will make him happy, Shiflett said. 

Bodi will continue living with the Shifletts as he has done for the last six years. 

Shiflett shared that the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office intends to add two dogs to its drug unit that will be trained to specifically detect fentanyl.