Meet the Black Lab Who Helps Recovering Addicts

Photo: Joe Schrank
Mik offers many benefits to residents at Loft 107

When new residents arrive at Loft 107, a sober-living facility in Brooklyn, they’re greeted by founder Joe Schrank and a friendly black Labrador Retriever named Mik. But Mik’s not just the welcome wagon; he’s a narcotics detection dog whose job is to make sure residents stay in recovery while they’re at Loft 107, and even after they leave.

A Perfect Match

Schrank had long explored bringing a dog like Mik to the facility but was wary because of the possible narcotics detection connotation. “The idea is intimidating. People immediately think 'law enforcement,'” says Schrank. “But (Mik's) not looking to ‘catch’ anyone or call the police. He’s there to help.”   

But Schrank also knew that a dog could help him make definitive calls about the presence (or absence) of drugs; an invaluable benefit to the Loft, which serves as a temporary place to stay for people who have already been in rehab but aren’t yet comfortable returning to their normal lives.

So, he contacted Worldwide Canine Inc., an organization that specializes in the training and utilization of professional working dogs, including police dogs for patrol, detection and tracking. After he was fully vetted by Worldwide Canines, Schrank was matched with 6-year-old Mik, whose duty as a police narcotics dog had come to an end. Mik offered the perfect experience and skills for Schrank and his team.

One important mandate was that Schrank would receive proper training on how to handle Mik in this unique environment, which he did through a local police officer. “We tried all kinds of things with Mik during training,” says Schrank. “I put the drugs in a safe, wrapped them in foil, everything. He got them every time.”

Keeping It Clean at the Center

Mik’s most critical job is to keep the Loft 107 facility drug-free and safe. The 7,000-square-foot warehouse loft is home to 17 residents and hosts a variety of sessions and events. “We have outpatients and residents coming in and out of the center every day. Anyone could bring in anything,” says Schrank.

While most of the people involved in the center are motivated to change their lives, some aren’t, says Schrank. Mik provides a safety measure to ensure the center stays clean. 

With Mik on staff, Schrank and his team no longer need to go through people’s things when they enter the facility. With a few quick sniffs, Mik can detect the presence of drugs right away. “He’s way more thorough than we could ever be,” says Schrank.

For new residents and their families, the dog’s presence brings a sense of relief and proof that the center means business when it comes to staying drug-free. “The great gift Mik gives people is peace of mind,” explains Schrank.

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