Photos contributed

By Pamela Dozois

A German shepherd named Corvin, a shelter dog less than two years ago, has become a police K9 certified in explosives detection. And he had a lot of human help along the way.

Corvin, then 2 years old, was brought to the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society in April 2018 by his owners, a couple from Lompoc who had a young child.

“The dog was just too much for them to handle,” said Kennel Manager Shayna Bartlett. “We gave him our usual evaluation and he passed. He was just very energetic. The family had him since he was a puppy and he hadn’t been neutered. A family environment just wasn’t for him. He had such a busy mind, he needed a job.”

Corvin is the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department’s first dog to be certified for detecting explosives.

Bartlett noticed that Corvin was very hyper-focused on a tennis ball and she realized that he had a lot of drive.

“We decided to reach out to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation out of Santa Paula,” said Bartlett. “They asked me to put him through a series of tests and I sent them a video of Corvin working out, demonstrating how super-focused he was on the tennis ball, and how he could not be distracted when he saw it. They were impressed and were interested in him and sent someone to pick him up. He then had to pass a series of tests, physical, and medical, including X-Rays, which took about two weeks.”

Bartlett was overjoyed when she received a phone call from Sylvia Stoney, Director of Canine Recruitment at the foundation, saying that Corvin had passed the tests.

Bartlett explained that a lot of dogs in the program don’t make it through to the actual training. It takes about a year to determine if a dog is suitable for search and rescue work, and although Corvin had passed all the requirements, he was not happy working with Search and Rescue. He was having a hard time finding his footing in the intense rubble of a natural disaster.

“We just didn’t think it was fair to force Corvin to do something he did not like, so Stoney contacted the San Luis Obispo County Police Department to see if they would be interested in acquiring Corvin for their K9 Program,” Bartlett said.

Corvin is now the newest member of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department K9 program and has received his Explosives Detection Certificate.

He is the first dog to become certified at the department for detecting explosives.

K9 Corvin and his new friend and handler, Deputy Cedric Adams, are based in the SLO County Sheriff’s Office South Station in Oceano.

According to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, K9 Corvin and his handler, Deputy Cedric Adams, completed a three-week certification program that included Corvin alerting his handler to bomb-making materials in vehicles, packages and parcels, buildings and in open-area searches. Corvin is cross-trained in explosives detection as well as apprehension.

The department says Corvin has a calm demeanor until he goes to work, and then he’s all business.

When off-duty, Corvin and Adams visit local schools and give presentations. Adams is a 30-year law enforcement veteran who has been with the SLO Sheriff’s Office since 2015.

 “We are seeing more and more German shepherds in our shelter,” said Bartlett. “They are very cute when they are little but when grown they are working dogs – they need a job.”

“We are so happy that Corvin found a job with the Police Department and a new home with Deputy Adams,” said Bartlett.

“This is a testament to Shayna and our whole staff at the Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society,” said board president Bob Jennings. “They go the extra mile to find places for animals who have been in our care for longer than our average length of stay. They are concerned about what situation will be best for the animal in the long run and where will they live their best lives.

“In this case, Corvin was meant to be a working dog and Shayna could see that,” Jennings added.

Bartlett began working at the SYV Humane Society in 2015 as a kennel attendant and then became kennel manager early in 2018.

“I realized after working for the Humane Society that nothing else was going to fulfill me because I truly feel I’m making a difference. I thrive on finding homes for animals that might otherwise be euthanized,” she explained. “One of my favorite quotes, which we have on the back of our T-shirts, is, Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal,’ which, in this case is Corvin.”

Having recently acquired a van, the SYV Humane Society rescues animals that would otherwise be euthanized at other facilities, especially pregnant mothers.

For more information about adopting an animal from the SYV Humane Society, call 805-688-8224 or visit 111 Commerce Drive in Buellton.