Through a generous donation from Peoples Bank, the Marietta Community Foundation helped purchase a new K9 unit, K9 Rita, for the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

As a recognition of her 40 years of service to the bank, Peoples Bank honored Carol Schneeberger, Chief Administrative Officer, with the opportunity to select recipients of a charitable contribution from the bank. Concerned about the drug problem facing our community, Schneeberger reached out to the Sheriff’s Department to learn more about their needs.

One of the ideas presented was the need for a new K9 unit for the department. “It’s about preventing another drug addiction and possibly saving someone’s life,” said Schneeberger on why this issue was important to her. “This gift won’t solve the drug problem, but K9 Rita will assist the Sheriff’s Department in their enforcement efforts.”

K9 Rita is a three year old German Shepherd from Germany. She and Deputy Ryan Zide completed their 6 week Ohio Peace Officer Training certifications which included tracking, building and area searches, suspect apprehension, and narcotics detection. Rita not only holds the above certification through OPOTA, but nationally as well.

“Rita can detect drugs that are undetectable to the human nose,” said Deputy Zide. “This allows for greater detection of narcotics which in turn leads to more seizures, hopefully getting the drugs off the streets and significantly reducing the availability to first time drug users.”

K9 Rita will enable the Sheriff’s Department to find, seize, and eliminate drugs that otherwise might go undetected in certain circumstances. “A K9’s sense of smell works much differently than a human’s,” said Deputy Zide. “When a pizza is baked, a human nose will smell the entire pizza. A K9 will instead smell every ingredient, separately. Applying this to vehicles or buildings, a human nose may smell the car as a whole where Rita will smell every item in the car and be able to distinguish narcotics from any masking odors.”

If the Sheriff’s Department can save at least one person from starting down the path of narcotics abuse, they know that K9 Rita will have greatly benefitted the community. However, the increased ability to locate drugs and seize drugs can go a long way in fighting and hopefully eliminating the drug problem in Washington County.

“By locating the drugs, the benefits are ten fold. For example, once once Rita Positively indicates there are narcotics (in a vehicle for example), we can now search that vehicle,” said Deputy Zide.

“When we recover the narcotics, we eliminate those from the stream of narcotics sales/use. But just as importantly, is the information we get from the seizure. Often times, we can obtain information from the suspect who possessed the narcotics such as his intent with the narcotics. This can lead to distribution areas or persons selling. Conversely, it can lead to information of who is bringing the narcotics into Washington County.”

For those interested in supporting K9 Rita and the Sheriff’s Department, donations can be made to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Support Fund.