Crook County drug fight 'ruff' without K-9

Sheriff's Office raising $25,000 for drug-detection dog

Crook Co. 'Dollars for a Dog'

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - They're the noses, the alarms,  the crucial helpers -- unless you can't fork over $25,000 to get one.

"Crook County, especially Prineville, hasn't had a drug dog since about 2009," sheriff's Deputy Mitch Madden said Wednesday.

But Madden's working on it -- in fact, he's made it his mission to bring a drug-detection dog to Crook County. He hopes to have a K-9 out working by this summer.

"It's my dream," Madden said. "In July, I got to train with the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, and I actually got to run a dog. And by the time I was done running the dog, I was grinning from ear to ear."

And now they are asking the community for help by embarking on a campaign to raise $25,000.

Since last March, they've raised about $4,500. Now they're hoping to ramp up the efforts.

Sheriff Jim Hensley hopes a drug dog could help combat the county's growing drug problem.

"If you're dealing drugs, you don't want to do it in Crook County -- we're coming after you," Hensley said.

Madden said he's seen an increase of all sorts of drugs in the area, but the rise of meth and heroin is particularly troublesome.

"Individuals that are running drugs through Oregon, they know who has drug dogs in their community, and they are coming to Crook County," Madden said.

Hensley said more than 80 percent of all crime in the county is somehow related to drugs.

In Bend, one of the police department's newest drug dogs is already well-earning her keep.

"Zoey" has been on the streets fighting crime since 2012. Her handler, Officer Don Barber, said she's already detected more than $50,000 worth of drugs in her career.

Barber said it takes Zoey typically 15 minutes to find what could otherwise take officers up to four hours.

It's a  four-legged partner that Madden said will make the difference between a criminal getting caught, and one getting away.

"They may have drugs in their vehicles, we just don't know," Madden said. "If the dog alerts to the odor of the drug, then that's reason enough to go into the car."

Hensley hopes the community will recognize a K-9's value in safety.

"It's not just, 'Hey, there's the sheriff's dog.' No, it's the community dog," the sheriff said.

The Crook County Sheriff's Office is holding a "Fill the Bowl" fundraising event coming up on Saturday, May 3rd in Prineville. For details on time and location, you can call the sheriff's office at 541-447-6398.

You can also visit office's Facebook page for the cause: Crook County Friends of K9.

The office has partnered with Crestview Cable Communications, and customers can also chose to donate to the cause through their bills.

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