PENDLETON, Oregon – The Pendleton Police Department is one of only two agencies in the state to be awarded a scholarship offered by Working Dogs of Oregon. Police Chief Stuart Roberts say the six-week application process included letters of interest, a phone interview, justification and a formal application. He was notified Thursday of the award.
Working Dogs of Oregon will come to Pendleton with the available dogs. Roberts says they are German shepherds from Czechoslovakia. With the arrival of a new dog, Corporal Jon Lehman is giving up his K9 duty, and his dog Lucy will be retired. Pendleton’s new K9 handler will be Officer Cass Clark.
“He’s extremely excited and energetic, you know, ready to get rolling,” Roberts said of Clark’s reaction to the new post. “That will be an exciting transition for all involved.”
Clark will have a chance to meet the dogs and see which puppy he bonds with.
“The dogs are about 22 to 23 weeks old right now, so they’re just starting a lot of their pre-training,” Roberts said. “We need to have conversations specifically about our needs within this community.”
Lucy is a four-odor narcotics detection dog whose value was diminished with the legalization of marijuana. Roberts said the department couldn’t afford to replace Lucy, but she proved a valuable option in schools throughout the region. She will retire in the near future and Roberts said it’s customary for the retiring dog to become a pet for the handler.
He says the best case scenario for the new K9 is a dog trained not only in narcotics and tracking and apprehension, but in the detection of accelerants and explosives as well. He said that final piece would be ideal because of all the large events Pendleton hosts, which seems to grow every year.
The kennel is bringing the dogs to Pendleton sometime within the next two weeks.