In Passing: Fierce, Strong, and Driven

By Montecito Journal   |   September 27, 2018
Betti Blue Van Haus Pe-ja (2004-2018) served the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department for eight years before retiring in 2014

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has lost its first and only female K-9 to work for our agency. Retired K-9 Betti passed away September 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 McNeil, who remains a K-9 handler with partner Magnum, and his family. Betti had been thoroughly enjoying her retirement life.

Deputy Mike McNeil said she was a special pup and is already greatly missed. He said, “She was the best partner and fur baby my family has had. 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 many lives in Santa Barbara County. In fact, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors gave Betti a “Resolution of Commendation” upon her retirement for outstanding performance and dedicated service to Santa Barbara County. Here is a video we put together when she retired:

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 located several types of illegal narcotics including more than 300 tablets of ecstasy in Orcutt. On another occasion in June 2007, she was responsible for tracking down a Goleta man who had sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl at Girsh Park.

Betti also assisted on numerous searches for evidence and lost or missing people. She was involved in a large number of building searches, alarm calls, and deputy protection during major disturbances. In addition to all of her crime-fighting accomplishments, Betti participated in a wide range of exhibitions 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 United States 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 generous public donations and grant funding from the National Police Dog Foundation (NPDF).

We want to thank 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 United States. The group helps purchase and train dogs, as well as provides a network of veterinarians to assist them with providing medical care as needs arise for both active and retired police dogs. Betti benefited from this medical care. A special thanks to Dr. Ron Dalzell of Ventura County for taking care of Betti and many other Central Coast police dogs.

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

Our K-9 Units are an important crime-fighting tool. If you are interested in helping the Sheriff’s Office fund our K-9 units, 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 purchase K-9 Kyrpto, a narcotics dog assigned to the Santa Barbara County Jail.

Ongoing funding for our K-9 Unit is critical. In addition to the cost to purchase a dog, there are ongoing training expenses, supplies, equipment, and funds that go toward replacing dogs who are near their service retirement. If you would like to support Project Deputy Dog or to find out more about this important program, go to

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 comprises local non-law enforcement volunteers who donate their time and efforts to assist the Sheriff’s Office in filling needs not funded by the constrained County budget.


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