After eight years of fighting crime and helping to save lives in Santa Barbara County, 10-year-old sheriff’s K-9 Betti is officially retired.
At the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning, Betti, alongside her handler, sheriff’s Deputy Mike McNeil, received a Resolution of Commendation. The honor, given by the Board of Supervisors, recognized Betti for her outstanding performance and dedicated service to Santa Barbara County.
In addition to the award, Betti received a large round of applause from the audience followed by a photo session with the media.
During her career, Betti is credited with physically apprehending more than 30 suspects, including violent felons, arsonists, burglars, child molesters and drug-related offenders. One of Betti’s most memorable achievements was in 2009, when she located several types of illegal narcotics including more than 300 tablets of ecstasy in Orcutt. On another occasion in June 2007, she was responsible for tracking down a Goleta man who had sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl at Girsh Park.
Betti has also assisted on numerous searches for evidence and lost or missing people. She has been involved in a large number of building searches, alarm calls and deputy protection during major disturbances.
In addition to all of her crime fighting accomplishments, Betti has participated in a wide range of exhibitions for thousands of people, including civic groups and clubs, private organizations, youth groups and more than 50 schools.
Betti, whose full name is Betti Blue Van Haus Pe-ja, was born in Germany. She came to the United States in 2005 and attended training at the Inglis Police Dog Academy in Ventura County. She was purchased by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and became the first and only female K-9 to work for the agency.
Betti and Deputy McNeil completed the law enforcement patrol course, narcotics detection course and hard-surface tracking course, all of which need to be recertified each year.
Betti was paired up to work and live with Sheriff’s Deputy McNeil and his family, where she will continue to live during her retirement.
Asked what he will miss most about working with Betti, Deputy McNeil said, “Betti had an incredible attention to detail and focus. She gave 100 percent to everything she did. She was a community dog. She could go from being with a room full of second-graders one moment to chasing after and apprehending a bad guy the next moment.”
Deputy McNeil recently received a new K-9 partner, Magnum, who also has joined his family. Magnum is from Ventura County and attended the same school as Betti. Magnum is certified in patrol, narcotics and tracking.
Asked what he thinks of Magnum so far, Deputy McNeil said, “I can already tell Magnum has great skills, and even though he has big paws to fill, he will have an impressive career.”
The estimated cost for purchasing and training a law enforcement K-9 is $21,500. Betti was purchased for the Sheriff’s Department by generous public donations and National Police Dog Foundation grant funding. Magnum was purchased entirely by public donations.
If you are interested in helping the Sheriff’s Department fund its K-9 units, please contact Lt. Arnoldi with the Sheriff’s Department at 805.681.4133.
— Kelly Hoover is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.