Top honor for Pa. drug enforcement dog and partner

February 1, 2013 2:28:32 PM PST
A Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force officer and her K-9 partner have been honored with a prestigious national award.

And they beat out more than 18,000 K-9 teams across the country to do it.

DEA Task Force Officer Christine Kelliher and her K-9, Kirby, received the American Canine Excellence Award from the American Kennel Club.

"We just really work well together," Christine told Action News. "There's good chemistry there. We train a lot. We've been given a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves, and she's definitely done it."

During a recent training session in Southwest Philadelphia Kirby sniffed out twenty pounds of marijuana. Her reward: an opportunity to play tug-of-war with Christine.

On the job, they are assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency's Drug Interdiction Task Force.

Last month, Action News got exclusive video of Kirby at a drug raid in Northern Liberties that netted police 250 pounds of the most potent marijuana on the streets of Philadelphia.

"They're just an amazing team that really makes us a successful drug interdiction unit" said supervisor Bryan Doherty.

During the past year Kirby has helped the task force seize more than $21 million in drugs and $2.8 million in drug currency.

"McGruff coined the phrase 'Take a bite out of crime,'" said Bensalem Township Director of Public Safety Fred Harran. "Kirby actually does it."

At age nine, Kirby has been a task force K-9 for seven years. She was born and raised in Slovakia.

"They're bred over there to be police dogs," said Christine. "A broker from the U.S. went over there, saw the way she worked, liked the way she worked and brought her to the U.S. to make her a police dog."

And in seven years she's seized more than $82 million in drugs and drug proceeds.

"I'm hoping we can cruise for another two years," said Christine, "and maybe hit the $100 million mark."

You will be able to see Kirby receive her American Canine Excellence Award at the AKC Eukanuba Dog Show. It airs Saturday February 2nd at 2:00 p.m. on 6abc.