Politics aside, whether it be at school or at home, the world is not a safe place for todayâ€™s youth. Word of mass shootings has seemingly become de rigueur. Whatever oneâ€™s stance on recreational drug use, it should be tacit that drugs in the hands of minors is far from ideal, yet the news continues to release story after story of overdosed teenagers who got their fixes while at school. When confronted with a new problem, old paradigms and ways of thinking become less effective, so it is reasonable to try new approaches to combat new challenges. In an attempt to create one such approach, Michael Davis began The Last Chance K9 Services.
Michael Davis joined the U.S. Army in 2004. After only a year in service, a woman carrying Davisâ€™ child was attacked by a drug addict, resulting in the unborn childâ€™s death. Davis subsequently left the military to attend to the woman and his own grief, but the events of the attack also led to a solemn vow to dedicate his energies to confiscating and destroying drugs in the possession of young people, consequently eliminating future addicts while developing new effective counter terrorism techniques: â€œWith the extreme rise in organized terrorism plaguing our country and the world holistically, it was time to build a community-based defense system. This system is constructed to adapt to the current issues domestically and to deter the effects it will stamp on our childrenâ€™s future. Extremism and narcotics are becoming an adversary like never before. It is time to fight back.â€ Those passionate words can be found on Davisâ€™ website, and they convey the gravity of his mission well.
Davis possesses an impressive array of skills and certifications that includes but is not limited to high-threat protection, executive protection, high-risk first response, advanced rifle and pistol techniques and even a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In addition, Davis received training from such various and sundry organizations as the Israeli Special Forces, nearly every branch of the U.S. military, as well as several police bomb squads and K9 units from across the nation. â€œMy goal was to gain the expertise and resources I could to create a more intelligent process for finding illicit substances and materials,â€ says Davis. Now, Davisâ€™ The Last Chance is slowly spreading throughout the country.
Naturally, one might ask what makes Davisâ€™ K9 program so singular. Carefully selected as puppies, the dogs that end up becoming part of The Last Chance each possess what Davis calls â€œplay drive,â€ a trait where the dog has a profound instinct to search for and find hidden objects. After screening the puppies, Davis begins by employing a technique called scent logics. â€œMy dogs are not trained with real drugs because we found that with something like marijuana â€“ which has different fertilizers used for different batches â€“ you only train the dog to find that marijuana,â€ says Davis.
The scientist who created scent logics discovered that all marijuana contains 13 common fertilizers. By training the dogsâ€™ noses artificially to those specific fertilizers, the animals can locate the drug in any iteration. Similar techniques are also employed by Davis to train the dogs to smell other materials such as narcotics, guns or even bombs. After a series of Pavlovian training exercises to associate finding the drugs with good behavior, as well as certification and insurance for both dog and handler, K9 units at The Last Chance are ready to go.
For those interested, The Last Chance offers two different packages. One is the â€œWorried Parent Programâ€ for the price of $99. Essentially a â€œscared straight program,â€ at a parentâ€™s behest, a handler and dog will arrive at the solicitorâ€™s residence and begin a thorough sniff of the home for any drugs. â€œWhen we do find drugs, we tell the parents and the kids, and we then discuss whether we should turn it in to the police or dispose of it properly. We actually find that when everything is out in the open like that, when there are no more secrets, the rapport between parent and child actually becomes stronger,â€ says Davis. He goes on to say that he always works in full cooperation with local police, â€œOur goal is to stop kids from becoming addicts in the first place. Sometimes, the police allow us to drop off any discovered materials with no questions asked; sometimes we are asked not to even touch the evidence.â€
The Last Chance also offer the â€œSchool Protection Program.â€ Working to keep the cost low, Davis was able to provide this service to any school for the price of $500. Mostly, Davis and the dogs do demonstrations at the schools, which are very well received and the dogs are almost always universally liked. â€œIf we needed to, our staff has grown such that we could place a dog and handler for a drug, gun, or bomb sniff in each school in JCPS [elementary, middle or high] once a day,â€ says Davis. Between the two programs, Davis has received almost unanimous positive feedback.
â€œIâ€™ve been working and training detector K9â€™s for 28 years, and Iâ€™ve seen it all,â€ says Jeff Barrett, a K9 officer with the Lakeland, Florida police department and owner of HITS Training and Consultants. â€œI recently had the opportunity to participate in some detector dog training alongside Michael Davis from TLC K9. I can honestly say that the future of K9 handling is here and itâ€™s now â€“ professional, knowledgeable and passionate is what sets TLC K9 at the top.â€
Despite the praise and success, Davis appreciates that heâ€™s a stranger to both the parent and childâ€™s unique situations, but he also believes that parents have good reason to trust him: â€œI grew up rough. I know how easy it is to get lost in the world. It can turn an intelligent person into someone theyâ€™re not. Our children are the foundation of our future, and if we do not reestablish our future, America will no longer be what it once was.â€ So what are you waiting for? If you suspect that a child or teenager in your life is headed down the wrong path, give them The Last Chance before itâ€™s too late.