By Lisa Rogers
From: The Gadsden Times
Photo: Attalla Police Department drug dog Kori, seen Thursday, September 22, 2011, in Attalla, Ala. (Gadsden Times, Marc Golden)
Kori wags her tail and runs around, on a leash and dragging her handler with her. She looks like she’s just playing, but Kori is no ordinary dog.
Kori and her handler, Attalla Police Capt. Richard Cox, are certified in narcotics detection.
When she’s searching, she abruptly stops and sits when she hits on a scent of drugs.
“She thinks her toy is in there,” Cox said.
Cox has had Kori eight years, and she is his third dog since 1997.
It’s not uncommon for Kori to sniff out marijuana in trunks of cars, or packages of methamphetamine or cocaine hidden in strange places.
Cox said one of Kori’s most difficult finds was 3 ounces of ice, the purest form of meth, hidden in a 5-ton bottle jack. Someone had taken the hydraulics out and hidden the drugs in the steel shell.
The jack was loose in the back of a pickup.
“You can’t beat a dog’s nose,” Cox said. “She’s not looking for a bottle jack. She’s looking for dope.”
Kori is the only certified narcotics dog being used in Etowah County.
Cox has been training K-9s for police work since 1991, and has worked at the Attalla Police Department since 1995.
The first dog he had in Attalla was trained for patrol and the second one was trained in narcotics.
Cox always has loved dogs and while working as a Guntersville police officer years ago, he watched with interest a K-9 and its handler at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office.
“I watched her working and I’ve always been interested in K-9s used in police work,” Cox said. “It just comes second nature now. I couldn’t imagine anything else.”
Cox also goes to schools and other activities for young children to teach them about drug education. He often does this on his off-duty hours, and many times he is called out when he is not scheduled to work.
Just caring for Kori takes a lot of dedication and is a big responsibility.
Kori is like a member of Cox’s family. She lives with him and he is responsible for her at all times.
“She’s my baby girl. She’s part of my family,” he said.
Until last year, Cox paid for her food and vet bills out of his pocket. The city of Attalla began paying those costs last year, Chief Lamont Tucker said.
Tucker said the mayor and council also approved buying a Tahoe for Cox and Kori.
He said the Etowah County Drug Enforcement Unit and Etowah County paid for a cage, lights and other equipment necessary for Kori.
Rob Savage, commander of the DEU, said Cox and Kori are a tremendous asset to drug investigations in Etowah County.
“Captain Cox and Kori have always responded to assist us when we requested it and in many cases that assistance has been invaluable,” Savage said.
There are many cases, Cox said, in which Kori’s detection has made a difference, and he said it especially bothers him that state law only classifies killing a K-9 as a Class C felony.
“To the state of Alabama, she’s just considered a piece of equipment,” he said.
Cox thinks that is a law that should change.
“I think there should be a little harsher penalty,” he said.
Read more: The Gadsden Times