Luke back in Carson City to resume career as K9 cop | NevadaAppeal.com
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Luke back in Carson City to resume career as K9 cop

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong plays with Luke, the drug dog, Wednesday afternoon. Officials at the Nevada State Prison used Luke until recent funding cuts. Furlong says the Sheriff's Department is ready to reinstate its program, and will put Luke back on the street soon. Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
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Luke, the drug dog, made his way back home Wednesday.

After spending a successful year sniffing for dope at the Nevada State Prison on Fifth Street, Sheriff Kenny Furlong said prison officials called to say they had no funding for the program and wanted to donate Luke to Douglas County.

“But we’d rather have Luke back. We are ready to reinstate our program,” Furlong said Wednesday, as he sat in his office looking at the ebony Labrador with the unstoppable tail.

Luke’s life has been anything but boring. He was donated to the Carson City Sheriff’s Department in 2002 and spent two years on patrol.

Then, a former Carson City Sheriff’s K9 handler sued the city claiming she wasn’t adequately compensated for her off-duty time caring for her dog. She won a $63,000 judgment.

Her victory rocked the department, Furlong said.

He immediately suspended the drug-dog program to evaluate its worth. While that was being decided, Luke ended up with Carson City Animal Services.

The public was outraged about Luke being in “doggy jail.” The Sheriff’s Department was flooded with calls.

Furlong sprang him from the clink and brought him home.

The prison learned of the situation and asked if they could take Luke.

Furlong agreed.

“We kept him in Carson City, and his ownership was always retained by us,” he said. “He’s a good dog. He just had a find at the prison last week. He does his job well.”

This past week a memo was sent out to the deputies soliciting handlers to take on Luke. Furlong said they received at least three enthusiastic responses, but have yet to determine who will receive the honor.

Once that is determined, the deputy will take custody of Luke. He will bring him home at night and be sole-provider for his furry partner. He will receive on top of his salary up to $70 each week for time spent caring for Luke off-duty. The duo will attend training together in Reno.

“Since the dog’s already certified and up and running, it will probably be a two-week course,” Furlong said. “I wholly expect Luke will hit the street within the month.”

And since his department has spent the last year drafting a fair contract for both the department and the handler, Furlong said he’s ready to expand the program.

“I hope to generate enough enthusiasm in the community to provide for a second dog by the end of the year,” he said.

— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.