PHOENIX — Normally when drugs are found by a dog, they're alongside an officer, which might lead to a trip to the police station. But one Ahwatukee woman is hoping to help people before it ever gets to that.
It was a business Amy Halm never intended to start.
“It was an accidental business. I had adopted a retired police dog.” Halm explained.
Pretty soon, people started asking her if the dog could still sniff out drugs
“I took him out a few times and gave him a command,” She said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but he did.”
When her dog started sniffing out drugs like the good ol’ days, Halm new she could provide a service. After educating herself on certifications and licensing procedures, her business, Desert Drug Dog was off and running.
Halm now works with a variety of handlers and at least six dogs. Her dogs are trained to detect drugs in homes, rehab centers and businesses.
“We are in the drug detection business, but we’re also – and more importantly – in the drug deterrence business.”
Her biggest clientele is schools of all sizes.
“Today we were at a middle school and there were three 7th grade girls doing something for a very long time in the ladies’ room,” Halm said. “Our dogs went crazy in the restroom, so what that tells us is that those girls are getting in trouble right now, probably. But that can save them a lifetime of pain and anguish and their parents' pain and anguish, and that’s what our goal is.”
When the fears of clients are realized, and her dogs find drugs, it’s a painful confirmation for a family to face.
“We are thrust into some of the most difficult and sad situations you can imagine. But here’s what we also see: We see them come out the other side. We see a lot of people getting discharged and having very high hopes for the future.”
And that’s the real reward for their work.