DENVER, Colo. - A Belgian Malinois' previous owners had abandoned her in a neighborhood in Colorado, but a family took her in, which eventually paved the way for her new life as a K-9 officer working in explosives detection.
In her short tenure as an explosives detection dog for the Denver Sheriff's Department, Karma, 2, has already brought good karma to her community.
Karma's road to being an explosives detection dog, however, did involve bad karma.
Last year, a black vehicle drove into the Castle Rock neighborhood, let her out of the car and then drove off.
Karma then tried to run after the vehicle, but was unable to catch it. She was roaming alone for about six days.
“During that time, she had run her paws down to where all of them were bleeding, All of her nails were down to the quicks,” Deputy Patrick Hynes, Karma’s human partner, said. “She was obviously underweight, because she wasn't eating.”
At first, she was skittish when humans attempted to rescue her. There was a winter storm coming at the time, so the neighbors opened up all their garage doors to see if she would seek shelter in them. She finally chose one.
Then another family rescued Karma from that neighbor's garage.
When they took her to the veterinarian, a vet tech knew the president of Front Range Explosives Detection training group.
The president of that group contacted Hynes, because he knew that Hynes’ black Labrador Taylor was getting ready to retire.
Hynes then took custody of Karma a week after Thanksgiving last year, after he saw she would be a good fit.
Karma began training in January of this year, and then finished in April. She is now certified with the National Safe Canine Association and began working at the end of May.
“She's a full-blown deputy. She already has her ID and her badge,” Hynes said.
She played an important role in assisting with the funeral of Kendrick Castillo, a teen who gave his life to save others at the STEM school shooting in the Denver-area suburb of Highlands Ranch.
“We had to sweep the church before the funeral services,” said Hynes.
Now, Hynes and Karma are waiting for her to be sworn in by the sheriff, which just needs to be scheduled into the sheriff's calendar, said Daria Serna, media relations director for the department. She said she will follow up with the sheriff soon.
When asked about Karma's personality, Hynes said she's “sassy.”
“She's feisty. She's doing awesome as far as the explosives detection odor stuff goes. I would say she is well ahead of the game on that for her age and for the small amount of experience that she has so far,” he said.
There's two more odors that she needs to learn and once she does, she'll be “full-blown ready to rock 'n roll all the way,” he said.
Hynes also chuckled when talking about his beloved K9 officers.
Karma can also be a little “snippy” with humans, due to her past experiences, but gets along well with other dogs, Hynes said. Taylor, on the hand, gets along with humans but not with other dogs.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.