First dog on Routt County Sheriff’s roster being trained to track people, sniff out narcotics
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Sheriff’s Deputy Ed Hendricks was in Reno, Nevada, Monday beginning his second week of five weeks of training with his new K-9 partner, Boomer. Meanwhile, back at the Routt County Courthouse, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and the county commissioners were going over some of the details of Boomer’s compensation package.
“Does the dog get health insurance?” Commissioner Cari Hermacinski asked straight-faced.
“They only have dental, Cari,” Commissioner Doug Monger deadpanned.
But Hermacinski wasn’t kidding.
After all Boomer, a shepherd/Malinois mix, is costing the county $7,500, and he will be trained to sniff narcotics and track missing people. The 2015 budget for the sheriff’s new K-9 program is $18,000, which will cover food, modification to a patrol car, veterinary expenses and perhaps even a bullet-proof vest to fit Boomer.
“One blown knee is a $5,000 surgery,” Hermacinski pointed out.
“We’ve looked into it,” Wiggins replied. “If you want insurance, we can get it.”
In addition to working with Boomer on a daily basis, Hendricks will be taking his partner home with him every night to strengthen their bond. And Wiggins’ primary reason for visiting the commissioners on Monday was to make a recommendation on how to compensate Hendricks for the care he will provide the dog.
Undersheriff “Ray (Birch) did a lot of research on how we’re going to compensate the K-9 deputy for the care of the K-9,” Wiggins said. The county attorney and human resources director have also been consulted.
After talking to other departments, Wiggins and Birch rejected a model in which the human deputy’s hours of work are reduced to offset the hours he invests in the dog when they are off duty. Instead, Wiggins suggested a modest stipend.
“We ended up agreeing that a $100 bi-weekly payment would be sufficient to pay the deputy for the care of the animal 24 hours, seven days a week,” Birch said. “During the days when he’s working, we allow him to take care of feeding and grooming,” on the clock. “Other days, when he’s off, $100 should be able to compensate him.”
The commissioners are expected to act on Wiggins’ plan Tuesday.
In neighboring Moffat County, the Craig Police Department and Moffat County Sheriff’s Office have K-9 units. The Sheriff’s Office implemented its program in 2004.
Moffat County K-9 deputy Kilo recently helped with the arrest of two individuals suspected of possessing, manufacturing and distributing meth and heroin in Moffat County.
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