Pets

Once deemed 'unadoptable,' pit bull mix Ghost is now Washington's first deaf K-9

Ghost is Washington state's first deaf drug detection dog. He's pictured with trainer Barb Davenport.
Ghost is Washington state's first deaf drug detection dog. He's pictured with trainer Barb Davenport. Washington Department of Corrections

From the streets of Florida to Washington state service, the past few years have been a wonderful whirlwind for a pit bull mix named Ghost. 

 Ghost's life had a rough beginning. 

 As a puppy, he was found as a stray in Florida. (He is estimated to have been born in September 2015, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections.) 

Animal control officials in Florida listed him as "unadoptable" because he was deaf, had a lot of energy and could be indifferent toward people, according to KIRO7 and King5

But the nonprofit Swamp Haven Rescue of Saint Augustine, Fla., wasn't going to give up on the puppy. 

After reaching out to organizations nationwide, Swamp Haven received a response from Olympic Peninsula Humane Society in Port Angeles, Wash., saying it would take the pup, KIRO7 reported. 

After Ghost made his cross-country move from Florida to Washington, he drew the attention of Barb Davenport, K-9 program manager for the Washington State Department of Corrections who has been training dogs to search for drugs since the 1980s. She started working with dogs at age 10. 

Davenport "works with shelters, humane societies and rescues throughout the state to provide quality K9 trained dogs to public service, which simultaneously saves as many rescue dogs as possible," said Jeremy Barclay with the Washington State Department of Corrections. 

"Barb found Ghost to be a very stable dog," Barclay told The Bee. "He was very focused and determined to locate his ball when thrown or hidden. This makes for a more trainable dog" for drug contraband detection. His high energy was also key. 

Now about 2.5 years old, Ghost officially started searching for drugs in state prisons and other facilities in January, according to King5. 

Ghost is living it up with his new handler, Joe Henderson, and they are both employed with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, according to Barclay. 

"I think it's wonderful that he has his forever home while benefiting the public safety of our citizenry," said Barclay. 

The former stray puppy from Florida is making history as Washington state's first-ever deaf K-9 – and possibly the first in the nation.

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