Staff Report


Betti, the only female K-9 officer ever to serve in the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, has died in retirement at 14 years old, the department announced.

Betti, whose full name was Betti Blue Van Haus Pe-ja, worked for the Sheriff’s Office for eight years before retiring in 2014.  She continued living with her handler, Deputy Mike McNeil, who now works with his K-9 partner Magnum.

“She was the best partner and fur baby my family has had,” McNeil said.  “She was fierce, strong and driven.  She was always willing to give 100 percent to me, our department, and our community.  She made me proud to call her my partner.”

During her eight years of service, Betti helped save many lives, and the county Board of Supervisors gave her a “resolution of commendation” upon her retirement for outstanding performance and dedicated service.

In her career she helped find more than 30 suspects, including violent felons, arsonists, burglars, child molesters and drug offenders, the Sheriff’s Office noted.  One of Betti’s most memorable achievements was in 2009, when she located several types of illegal narcotics including more than 300 tablets of ecstasy in Orcutt.  On another occasion in June of 2007, she was responsible for tracking down a Goleta man who had sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl at Girsh Park.

She also participated in a wide range of exhibitions for thousands of people including civic groups and clubs, private organizations, youth groups and more than 50 schools.

The Sheriff’s Office purchased Betti through public donations and grant funding from the National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF), which handled her remains complete with an American flag cover for her final transport. For information on how to support this group, go to

Funds for local K-9 units are also raised by the nonprofit Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse and its Project Deputy Dog campaign.  The group recently raised funds to purchase K-9 Krypto, a narcotics dog assigned to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

For more information, go to