‘Retired’ Washington County drug dog leads sheriff to suspected drug users during walk

Posted Sept. 12, 2012, at 6:45 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 12, 2012, at 9:42 p.m.
Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith and his “retired” drug-sniffing golden retriever, Ginger.
Courtesy photo
Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith and his “retired” drug-sniffing golden retriever, Ginger.

LUBEC, Maine — Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith was taking his two dogs for a walk last Sunday morning along a beach behind Lubec’s public school complex when Ginger, a “retired” drug-sniffing golden retriever, disappeared.

“She always stays right by my side, so I thought it was strange that she disappeared,” Smith said Tuesday. “I called her, but she didn’t come.”

While searching for Ginger, Smith spotted a pickup truck parked on a beachside dead-end road. Parked next to it, with one paw up on the driver’s door, was Ginger. “That’s her signal,” Smith said.

Smith said there were two men inside the cab of the pickup. Given Ginger’s behavior, he presumed they were doing drugs.

When Smith — unarmed and lacking a cellphone to call for backup — approached the vehicle he said he saw the two men using syringes to inject what was later determined to be morphine.

Smith talked the two men out of the truck and used one of the men’s cellphones to summon a deputy.

Both from Lubec, the two men — Jesse Reed, 23, and Ian Campbell, 29 — were subsequently charged with drug possession. Smith said he offered to let both men walk if they would name the person who supplied the morphine. They declined, one saying he feared that he would be killed if he offered up a name. After being jailed, both made bail.

Smith said Ginger, now 10 years old, was a highly motivated drug dog between 2004 and 2008.

“I thought she had lost interest, but apparently not,” Smith said Wednesday. “I took her back to the same beach the next day, and she went to the same spot. I thought, don’t do that … you’re going to get me killed.”

CORRECTION:

An earlier version of this story contained and error. Ginger, the retired drug-sniffing dog, is golden retriever not a Lab.

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