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INDEPENDENCE, Mo . –  It’s the only one of it’s kind in the metro according to the handler with Metro K9 Narcotic Detection Services.

Ray McCarty works with Phoenix , a one-in-a-half old Belgian Malinois, who is helping to keep all their clients’ properties drug-free.

Phoenix has a keen sense of smell that’s hard to trick.

“It’s extremely accurate.  People think you can mask scent, you really can’t with a dog, everything is separated to them,” McCarty said.  “People will call us to basically find drugs, any narcotics that are hidden where they don’t want to get police involved,” McCarty said.

The team is at Shelterwood in rural Independence Wednesday.  Program Director Rujon Morrison said staff provide counseling for at-risk youth, oftentimes dealing with drug abuse.

“We call them the “drug dog” because it’s a really effective way of spontaneously checking to make sure the house is clean,” Morrison said.

Phoenix goes room-by-room, nose against the drawers and even on beds.  When she gets a “hit”, you’ll know because she is trained to sit.

“She’s pretty accurate and when we go through multiple times, I can say pretty certainly that there is or was something there,” McCarty said.  He said it’s then up to his clients what to do next, while Phoenix gets her favorite toy as a reward.

Morrison said she has employees check those questionable spots. If they find something, they deal with it as a therapeutic issue and parents are notified.  But she is also finding something else.

“We are really developing students who care about their recovery process and they do interventions on one another, they will tell staff often because they care about one another,” Morrison said.

McCarty said the cost of these services vary.  He said a sweep of a private home is around $100 and takes about half an hour. Commercial businesses run about $150 per hour.  For more information, visit

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