Natalzia and Pable VBSO

Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office welcomes new drug detecting K9

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office recently welcomed a new drug detecting K9 into the VBSO family.

K9 Pablo is a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois acquired by the VBSO in late spring from Ventosa K9 Kennel Inc. in Scotland Neck, N.C. The $7,500 purchase was funded by an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) from the Department of Justice. K9 Pablo was born in the Netherlands.

Master Deputy Anthony Natalzia spent three-and-a-half months training Pablo, his first K9 to train from the beginning of a dog’s time with the VBSO. The training taught Pablo how to detect different drugs and allowed him to bond or “imprint” on Master Deputy Natalzia as his handler. K9 Pablo earned his Virginia Police Work Dog Association certification in early September and has since completed more than a dozen operational searches. His primary function – working alongside Master Deputy Natalzia – is to screen the Virginia Beach Correctional Center and other public areas for the presence of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines (meth) and Ecstasy.

For reporters who would like to meet K9 Pablo and Master Deputy Natalzia and take photos and/or video, the VBSO will hold a media availability on Friday, Oct. 7, at 11 a.m. at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office, 2501 James Madison Blvd., in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. To RSVP, please contact Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti at 757-385-8446 or

The VBSO K9 Unit has two additional K9s: K9 Gaston, a 6-year-old German shepherd certified in detecting explosives, and K9 Candy, a 10-year-old German shepherd certified in detecting narcotics. K9 Candy will retire in the next year. She is the only VBSO K9 certified in detecting marijuana, which was not part of K9 Pablo’s training due to the legalization of marijuana in Virginia. The VBSO K9 Unit was established in 2013.

Recently, Master Deputy Aaron Whitehead, K9 Gaston’s handler, became the VBSO's first K9 Explosives Trainer, allowing him to oversee the training of K9 Pablo as the VBSO’s first K9 trained in-house. K9s Gaston and Pablo will both eventually be trained as tracking dogs to assist in situations such as finding missing children, missing senior citizens and fugitives.

“The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit is an extremely important tool in our mission to protect the citizens of Virginia Beach. Our K9s are also cherished members of the Sheriff’s Office family,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle. “K9 Pablo and his handler not only find illicit substances that arrestees may try to bring into the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, but they also stand at-the-ready whenever, wherever they may be needed to support public safety. I am extremely proud of this elite unit and how far it has come in the last nine years.”

“We are grateful for the dedicated service of all of our K9 deputies and to their donors, who have made these assets available to us at no cost to taxpayers,” Stolle said.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Public Information Officer Toni Guagenti at 757-385-8446, 757-373-5012 or