According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 20 million Americans ages 12 or older used an illegal drug in the past 30 days. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that addiction is our nation’s No. 1 health problem — one that significantly burdens the economy, health care system and criminal justice system, and negatively impacts job security, public safety and marital and family life.
These alarming statistics, combined with Dru Conrad’s passion for German shepherds and a brother in law enforcement working with police dogs, inspired her to establish Lowcountry K-9 Inc.
“I’ve always loved German shepherds, loved that they are working dogs. I attended training with my brother, as an observer, and that experience solidified my love for this incredible breed, as well as my interest in drug detection services,” Conrad said.
As a successful business professional and 21-year resident of the Lowcountry, Conrad saw that there was a need in the community for drug detection services.
“Many businesses perform random drug screening, but I believe that K-9 sweeps are a proactive, cost-effective tool for businesses that really want to establish and maintain a drug-free work environment,” she said.
As a mother, Conrad believed that the services provided by Lowcountry K-9 could also benefit schools, as well as parents.
According to a national survey substance abuse conducted by CASAColumbia, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Columbia University, 86 percent of American high school students said that some classmates drink, use drugs and smoke during the school day, and 44 percent knew a student who sold drugs at school.
“For schools, such detection services serve as an excellent deterrent, and having a drug-free school helps students maintain a drug-free lifestyle and offers parents peace of mind,” Conrad said. “Lowcountry K-9 also offers parents a discreet way to rule out drug use at home. We can sweep a residence, parents can choose to be present or not, and then we can provide a report or discuss our findings with parents. This is done privately, law enforcement is not involved, and gives kids an opportunity to avoid peer pressure — ‘I can’t do that because my Mom hired a drug dog,’ etc.”
A variety of dog breeds are employed by law enforcement for drug detection, but German shepherds are the breed most commonly used. Conrad’s dog, 3-year-old Zosia, is a highly trained professional with an impressive lineage that makes her particularly well suited for drug detection.
“Zosia is a delight, but she is no lap dog. She is ‘working line’ versus ‘show line.’ Zosia has a passion for detection and is trained to work,” Conrad said.
Zosia has been with Conrad since she was a few months old and hails from Azzi International, a full-service K-9 training facility renowned for its strong, highly trained police service dogs. Zosia is also certified by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association and the American Working Dog Association. Both groups maintain stringent certification standards. Furthermore, certification is earned by a given K-9 and handler as a team.
Conrad is a K-9 handler contracted by highly acclaimed Merrills Detector Dog Services, which has a location in Georgetown, and by R.A.I.D., or Resistance Against Illegal Drugs, to carry out contracts in schools, universities and industrial facilities. In order to maintain her status, Conrad must recertify annually.
Conrad keeps Zosia on a special diet, and engages her in regular obedience training and conditioning, including detection “practice” with narcotic training aids. Zosia is trained to passively “sit” when she detects the presence of narcotic odor and will alert to the odor of marijuana, cocaine and its derivatives, heroine and methamphetamines.
“She (Zosia) could be a cop on a beat tomorrow and the police department would love her.
She is the Maserati of dogs,” Conrad said.
Conrad also recently added Kai, a 2-year-old imported Belgian Malinois specializing in explosives detection, to the Lowcountry K-9 team. Kai is owned by Merrills Detector Dog Services and works at the Port of Charleston, but lives with Conrad, who serves as his handler.
Lowcountry K-9 can be hired for a one-time sweep of a business, vehicle, school or residence, or retained for regular services. Lowcountry K-9 can also be deployed to local airports or marine embarkations for the purpose of conducting searches on private or commercial vessels.
To learn how Lowcountry K-9 can offer you peace of mind with discretion, in your personal life or business, go to LowcountryK9Inc.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.