Lebanon police recently added a couple new four-legged additions to the force.
Duco, a 3-year-old Belgian Shepherd Malinois, and Rush, a 2-year-old Black Lab, both started service last month as the departments K-9 sniffers.
“Their only job is detection,” said Chief Scott Bowen.
Duco is also the department’s first bomb-sniffer.
According to Bowen, Duco’s handler and partner, Shawn Williams, worked for Lebanon police from 1999 through 2005, and after leaving the department worked in private security in Iraq. That’s where he started working with Duco.
“Duco’s primary job was explosive detection [in Iraq],” said Bowen.
When Williams returned to Lebanon police, he and the department reached an agreement that the department would pay for Duco’s veterinary bills and food in exchange for his service to the department.
“While he’s serving here as our canine, we agree to pay his upkeep,” said Bowen. “There’s no you could lose. He was basically trained in a war zone, and from my understanding, this dog did pretty well and protected some pretty high up U.S. officials.”
By reaching this agreement, the department essentially saved the typical $7,500 to $15,000 cost to buy a K-9.
While Duco will sniff for explosives exclusively, Rush will sniff for narcotics exclusively.
“Rush and all of his training and supplies come out of the drug fund,” said Bowen. “None of his expenses come out of the general fund budget.”
As the narcotics K-9, Rush and his handler, J.P. Tuggle, spends most of their time out in the community.
“We understand the issue we have here with drugs,” said Bowen. “I would say he’s mainly used in vehicles, but there are times he’s used in storage units or houses.”
Bowen said Rush can also be used to do random drug checks at schools if school officials wanted, which could act as a preventative measure.
In addition, Rush makes a perfect public outreach representative.
Bowen said adults and children alike fall in love with Rush as soon as they meet him.
“It makes a really good community partnership tool because the kids love him, the adults love him, everybody loves him,” said Bowen.