Scott County to get drug-sniffing dog thanks to donation from Nestle Purina PetCare Co.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Scott County's long wait for a drug-sniffing dog is nearly over following the donation of a $5,000 check.

Nestle Purina PetCare Company of Cape Girardeau presented Sheriff Rick Walter with the donation Wednesday afternoon that will go toward buying the department the new animal. While the sheriff's department has a tracking dog, this will be the county's first drug-sniffing dog.

"We definitely need it," Walter said of the new recruit. "A lot of times when we do search warrants, we may miss some things."

The dog will be able to sniff out the county's biggest illegal drugs, marijuana and methamphetamine, as well as heroin and cocaine. In addition, the dog will also be able to search for humans, provide crowd control and protection, Scott County patrolman Paul Dirden said.

A local trainer was scheduled to choose and pick the dog up today from the East Coast. The animal, a German shepherd, is from Europe and will be between 12 and 18 months old, according to Dirden, who will be the animal's handler.

Once the dog arrives, Dirden and the dog will begin their eight-week training and then hit the streets.

"I'm excited. This is something I've been wanting to do for a while," said Dirden, who has been with the department for eight years.

The dog costs $10,500, and the donation from Purina gives the sheriff's department $13,000, Walter said. The other $8,000 was from donations from other local businesses.

In addition to the initial costs, the dog will cost about $250 monthly to keep the animal up with training and education, he said. With the $5,000 Purina donation, the company also gave the sheriff's department coupons good for a year of free food, a value of more than $1,000.

"We thought it was a worth-while cause to help out our community," said Taras Waszkyrak, Purina director of human resources.

A patrol car has already been outfitted into a K-9 unit, complete with kennel in the back seat and new decals on the side. The conversion of the K-9 cruiser from an existing squad car also based on donations.

"The goal is to do everything by donations," the sheriff said.

335-6611, extension 127

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