Sheriff’s Office K-9 Betti in action.
Deputy Mike McNeil and Betti.

Deputy Mike McNeil and Betti.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has lost the first and only female K-9 to work for the agency. Retired K-9 Betti passed away Sept. 14, at age 14 due to health complications from old age.

Betti, whose full name is Betti Blue Van Haus Pe-ja, worked for the Sheriff’s Office for eight years before retiring in 2014.

She continued living with her handler Deputy Mike McNeil, who remains a K-9 handler with now partner Magnum, and his family. Betti had been thoroughly enjoying her retirement life. 

McNeil said Betti was a special pup and is already greatly missed.

“She was the best partner and fur baby my family has had,” he said. “She was fierce, strong and driven. She was always willing to give 100 percent to me, our department, and our community. 

“She made me proud to call her my partner.”

Betti retired at age 10 from the Sheriff’s Office. During her eight years of time fighting she helped save a number of lives in Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors gave Betti a Resolution of Commendation upon her retirement for her outstading performance and dedicated service to Santa Barbara County.

During her career, Betti helped locate 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 tracked down several types of illegal narcotics including more than 300 tablets of ecstasy in Orcutt.

On another occasion, in June 2007, she was responsible for finding a Goleta man who had sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl at Girsh Park.

Betti also assisted on numerous searches for evidence and lost or missing people. She was involved in a number of building searches, alarm calls and deputy protection during major disturbances.

In addition to her crime-fighting accomplishments, Betti participated in a variety of exhibits for thousands of people including civic groups and clubs, private organizations, youth groups, and more than 50 schools.

Betti was born in Germany, came to the U.S. in 2005, and attended training at the Inglis Police Dog Academy in Ventura County.

She was purchased by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office through public donations and grant funding from the National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF).

The Sheriff’s Office thanks the NPDF for handling Betti’s remains complete with an American flag cover for her final transport. 

The NPDF helps support K-9 units throughout the U.S. The group helps buy and train dogs, and provides a network of veterinarians to assist them with providing medical care for active and retired police dogs. Betti benefited from this medical care.

The Sheriff’s Office offers special thanks to Dr. Ron Dalzell of Ventura County for taking care of Betti and other Central Coast police dogs.

The NPDF is a not-for-proft charitable organization. For information on how to support this group, visit

Sheriff’s Office K-9 units are a key crime-fighting tool. People interested in helping the Sheriff’s Office fund K-9 units, can contact the Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse, which is raising money for this cause through its Project Deputy Dog campaign.

The group recently raised funds to buy K-9 Kyrpto, a narcotics dog assigned to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Ongoing funding for the K-9 Unit is critical. In addition to the purchase cost, there are ongoing training expenses, supplies, equipment and funds that go toward replacing dogs who are near their service retirement.

To support Project Deputy Dog or to find out more about the program, visit

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Posse is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation with all contributions tax deductible under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Sheriff’s Posse Board is comprised of local non-law enforcement volunteers who donate their time, and efforts to assist the Sheriff’s Office fill its needs not funded by the county budget.

— Kelly Hoover for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.