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Drug dog sniffing out crime

The team at ZeroStone Investigations, from left, Matt MacDougall, German Shepherd Stone and Mike Lawson. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

There is a new face in town helping combat illegal drugs – and he comes with four paws and a great sense of smell.

German Shepherd Stone is being trained as the only drug detector dog in Marlborough and Tasman.

The nine-month-old dog joins the team at ZeroStone Investigations in Blenheim and will be able to sniff-out class A drugs.

Expert dog handler and former policeman Matt MacDougall says the latest addition will help businesses stay drug free.

“I did quite a bit of research before we got him, researching breeders, the dogs’ working lines and looking at videos.

“Stone’s granddad came from a working dog in the States.”

ZeroStone is the brainchild of former Blenheim detective Mike Lawson who set up the agency in 2016 after 24 years with the police force.

The company specialises in methamphetamine testing, employee drug testing, investigation and law enforcement consultation.

He says their services are in in demand across both Marlborough and Tasman.

“We do different things, from work for defence lawyers and investigating the other side to private cases where people are being prosecuted.

“Stone will be able to go into workplaces to help keep them drug free and hopefully act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about bringing drugs in.”

Mike’s time as a detective saw him target methamphetamine and drug dealing syndicates throughout Marlborough and Tasman.

He was involved in investigating some of the country’s most serious crimes.

Starting the agency was the next logical step, he says.

“It just felt like the right time. A lot of the guys I had worked with and respected were leaving.”

After a decade in the force, working in Christchurch as a dog handler, Matt returned to Blenheim.

He has been training Stone for the last six months.

“He’s a big baby at the moment. Some of the puppies start off as little rock stars but, for whatever reason, just don’t make good drug dogs.

“I started training Stone when he was eight weeks old by getting him used to odours and tracking them.

“We started with a tennis ball and once he found that we worked up slowly from there,” Matt says.

“He’s definitely turned out to be the pick of the bunch.”

ZeroStone Investigations are one of eight businesses talking about their work at the Chamber of Commerce’s free SME (Small Medium Enterprises) showcase on April 29 from 5-7pm at the Marlborough Convention Centre.

Other featured businesses are: Credit Recoveries Ltd, 3MLearning, Gift Sisters, NZME, Literacy Aotearoa, Bayleys and Fit4Work.

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