Kiggans hosts Isle of Wight K-9 training school at Capitol

Published 6:49 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

U.S. Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., recently introduced members of Congress to nine black Labrador retriever puppies and their handlers from American K-9 Interdiction, an Isle of Wight County-based business that trains dogs to sniff out guns, drugs and explosives.

“It was a privilege to host the AK9I team and their eight-week-old black Labrador puppies,” Kiggans said. “Over the past two years, I’ve seen firsthand the positive results they are achieving for those in Hampton Roads. Their dedication to keeping our community safe makes a real, positive impact in the lives of so many, especially our students and veterans. I’m glad I was able to introduce my colleagues and their staff to these four-legged heroes…having them at the U.S. Capitol provided a much-needed mental health boost for everyone!”

American K-9 Interdiction is a 2001-founded veteran-owned business based at a 57-acre campus just outside the village of Walters that once served as a minimum-security state prison and later a juvenile detention center. Paul Roushia, an ex-Navy dog handler, and AK9I co-founder Nigel Rhodes bought the campus in 2009 when the state sold it as surplus, and in 2018 also acquired the former Presbyterian Homes campus in Zuni.

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AK9I has a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-approved program that allows them to retrain veterans under the GI Bill to become K-9 handlers. The business also contracts with local school divisions in Hampton Roads as part of their K-9 School Safety Initiative, which puts dogs in schools with the goal of detecting drugs, firearms, explosives and other illicit materials on campus.