SEATTLE - He's got a reputation, but he's not living up to it. And that's a good thing. Neville the pit bull is working the ferry lines at Seattle's Coleman Dock.
He isn't supposed to be here. Neville was on death row in Canada until an escape worthy of a spy novel got him across the border and into the K-9 work force. Today he protects the people who almost failed him.
"He's the kind of dog who would take a bullet for you," said Neville's handler, Trooper David Dixon. "And there are people like me who had a bad idea of pit bulls in the past that may change their mind and love them because they're great."
"He's so sweet. I love it when you pet him and he just smashes up against you. You feel the love," said Diana Cameron, who works at the espresso stand on the dock.
And after five years and 21 actual finds of weapons or explosives, Neville prepares to hang up his badge for good. He is scheduled to retire in September.
Neville was the first pit bull on explosives patrol for the Washington State Patrol. And he's helped pave the way for four others to follow in his footsteps.
WSP currently has five pit bulls working narcotics or explosives. But Trooper Dixon says it's not so much about the breed as it is the sniffer and the disposition. Neville has a nose that knows and the temperament of a dedicated officer. Not to mention his success has helped booster the reputation of a breed known more to be fighters than crime fighters.
Trooper Dixon estimates that Neville does detection work on 150,000 vehicles a year. One dog's life was spared to benefit the lives of countless others.
Neville will remain with Trooper Dixon after his retirement.