K9 Cops back on track: Teddy and Troy settle into their jobs sniffing for dope in the capital city.
Appeal Staff Writer
Carson City’s newest deputies are furrier than their comrades and their most powerful weapon is their noses.
“The dog’s nose doesn’t lie,” said deputy Dan Ochsenschlager. “People might be telling you one thing, but the dog can tell you what’s really going on.”
Since June, Ochsenschlager has been working the day shift at the Carson City Sheriff’s Department with his new drug-sniffing partner Teddy, a 2-year-old golden retriever.
And in late July, Deputy Jeff Pullen’s K9 partner Troy, an 18-month-old black Labrador, was on duty as well. The specially trained dogs were purchased with an $11,000 donation from the Carson City methamphetamine coalition.
Three weeks ago, Troy proved his prowess when he discovered two ounces of marijuana in a backyard on Fall Street. Teddy has earned his kibble with marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine finds in his two months on the streets.
Though these two dogs aren’t the department’s first drug dogs, they do come after a contentious couple of years for its last drug dog – Luke.
Donated to the city by a Carson City woman in 2002, Luke worked for a while on the streets. Then, when city supervisors awarded a former canine deputy $63,000 dollars after she sued for overtime pay, Sheriff Ken Furlong thought it best to suspend the drug dog program until the fine details of the duty could be worked out. Luke was eventually retired to a private family where he spends his time as a pet.
But in the interim, the sheriff discovered the value of drug dogs.
“It’s critical to have drug dogs in support of the methamphetamine and other drug operations we are running,” he said. “Without them, we are at a disadvantage. The drug dogs really enhance detection.”
The department equipped two patrol cars with a cage and an automatic door opener in case of fire. A $2,000 donation on Thursday from the Carson Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association will equip the vehicles with heat sensors.
Ochsenschlager said that equipment is vital, especially in light of the Aug. 11 death of a Phoenix police K9 accidentally forgotten in a patrol vehicle for 13 hours in heat that reached 109 degrees outside.
Ochsenschlager said the heat sensor will alert the handler’s pager when the temperature inside the vehicles reaches dangerous levels, or the vehicle stalls or overheats. The sensor will also open the doors and allow the animal to escape.
Without the PTSA donation, the department would have had to wait for that equipment.
The K9 program will rely heavily on donations, and some Carson City businesses are already on board, said Lt. Ken Sandage.
Critter Junction donates their groom facilities and toys for the dogs, Sierra Vet gives them free veterinary care, Sun King tinted the windows on the patrol cars for free and Carson resident Dana Whaley offered a cash donation to the K9 program.
Program commander, Sgt. Brian Humphrey, said the dogs are not only valuable in finding drugs, they are effective in the prevention of drug use among kids.
“The kids relate so great with the dogs, it’s a good educational tool,” said Humphrey, who was at one time the handler of the department’s most recognized drug dog, Tahoe. Tahoe often spent afternoons in classrooms throughout the city helping Humphrey get across the message of abstaining from drugs. He said people still come up to him and ask him about Tahoe, though his partner retired several years ago, and died in 2005.
Ochsenschlager said the school district recognizes the power of the dogs as well. He is already fielding requests for classroom visits.
“Teddy just loves attention. His reward is a ball, but he would work for just attention. He’s just a lovable dog,” he said. “Teddy gets up in the morning and he’s excited. He knows I’m going to work and he knows he’s going to go work with me.”
Pullen said he entered law enforcement specifically to be a working dog handler, so when the K9 program was being reinstated, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s nice to have a partner – except when he jumps through the front seat,” he said with a laugh. “I think its just great that Carson City got the program back up and running again. Troy’s a great dog.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
You can help
To make a donation to the K9 program visit the Carson City Sheriff’s Department at 901 E. Musser St. or call Sgt. Brian Humphrey at 887-2020 ext. 3269.