The Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office will be implementing a K-9 unit within its rank in the coming months.
The Klickitat County Board of Commissioners approved a $16,672 purchasing agreement during an Aug. 20 board meeting in Goldendale with Code 4 Canine, llc to buy a dog that is 3 years of age or younger and that is mentally and physically suited for police work.
The money which is being raised through public donations will also fund a six-week training course through Code 4 Canine, LLC, which operates out of Centralia and runs a six-week training academy for newly adopted police dogs and their handlers.
Deputy Gaven Marble, who will be handling the new K-9 unit for Klickitat County, says he will begin his training at the academy on Oct. 14. Completion of the 400-hour course will result in his and the dog’s certification to become a patrol canine team.
Canines with a patrol certification are trained to ride alongside their handler and assist in the apprehension of people suspected of committing a crime.
According to the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office website, canines have unique abilities which “render safe many unsafe situations that our deputies and officers encounter daily while performing patrol duties.” This includes canine’s abilities to see in low-light conditions and their speed and stamina which give law enforcement officers an advantage when conducting operations.
According to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, K-9 team certifications last 24 months before they must be renewed. Not only will the team learn procedures for performing searches as part of police investigations, the handler will also learn philosophies and theories of police canine usage, legal aspects of canine usage and canine care and maintenance.
After the initial training, Marble and the dog will attend another round of training for narcotics detection. 240 hours will be required of them for certification.
Marble says the unit will be a rarity within the Gorge area. Citing the lack of K-9 units county-wide and across the river, he says the K-9 unit will be able to assist in law enforcement operations with partners in Klickitat County, Skamania County and in Oregon. He says this will be the first time Klickitat County has had a dog with certifications for both patrol and narcotics detection.
“Every cop wants to be part of change, or should want to be a part of change,” Marble said of the new unit.
Code 4 Canine will select the dog that meets their criteria, which includes sociability and the ability to be trained, among others. The team will choose one dog that can be from one of three breeds typically chosen for police work: German shepherds, Dutch shepherds and the Belgian Malinois.
The dog will be selected from many breeding grounds in Belgium, Germany and Ireland. Deputy Gaven Marble says European dogs have been bred healthier, with less of a chance to develop hip dysplasia. According to the American Kennel Club, hip dysplasia is a genetic predisposition in many dogs, more commonly larger dogs like the german shepherd, in which the legs don’t fit properly into the hip joint, causing it to deteriorate over time.
“I honestly don’t know what I’m going to end up with,” Marble said of the dog that Code 4 Canine will buy on behalf of the county. “It’s going to be like Christmas morning.”
He expects to hear of the breed selected this week.
Marble says the project coming together is a result of Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer carrying out one of his campaign promises he made when running for his second term as Sheriff, which was to implement a K-9 unit into the law enforcement agency. Songer was last elected sheriff in 2018.
Marble says he took initiative when it was announced that the county would be introducing a K-9 unit to the crew. He says this will be his first time handling a dog as part of his job description, but he says he is excited at the prospect of working with one, citing his lifetime love for animals.
“How cool is it to have a four-legged friend with you for support,” Marble said.
Marble says there is a long way to go before the K-9 unit is fully equipped. He says the unit is looking to raise $16,000 over the course of the fundraiser. He says this will go toward equipment and supplies needed to provide safety and comfort for the dog while it performs its duties.
Marble says the newly formed K-9 unit’s expenses will taper off as equipment is gathered for the unit.
Marble says he has been the spokesman for the K-9 program since the beginning of the fundraising movement to create the program, visiting community organizations and businesses to raise money for the implementation of the program.
He says they have crossed the halfway point to their goal, citing major donations by local businesses and BNSF, the railway company which owns property in Bingen.
Persons wishing to donate can send checks to the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office; be sure to put “K-9 Unit” on the memo line.