PENDLETON — Pendleton police Chief Stuart Roberts reported the department is getting a new four-legged officer.

“Several weeks ago, we applied for a rare opportunity to obtain a K-9 through a scholarship process, which included letters of interest, a phone interview, justification and formal application,” Roberts said Thursday, after he received notice Working Dogs of Oregon would award one of two K9 scholarships to the Pendleton Police Department.

The organizer and trainer are working to schedule a trip to Pendleton to introduce the available dogs, Roberts continued, and to further explore the department’s needs and capacity, along with promoting Working Dogs Oregon.

The organization announced the program on June 20 to provide “two fully trained police dogs to law enforcement agencies that show the need, desire and community support to qualify for a dog.” Seven police departments at that time applied for the scholarship, which is worth more than $40,000 between the cost of the dog and the training.

Roberts added Pendleton’s police dog is a “four odor narcotics detection dog,” but the value of such dogs has decreased with Oregonians voting to legalize marijuana.

“Most agencies across Oregon retired their four odor dogs, but we retained Lucy, because she was still a viable option for schools,” Roberts explained, “and we could not afford to replace her at $10,000-$15,000 plus 10 weeks of handler training.”

Winning a new dog changes that, he said, and the department plans to retire Lucy, whose age and health now limit her use, in the near future.

Roberts also said the best case scenario is the new dog “will have the ability to train/certify in narcotics detection, accelerant/explosive detection and provide patrol support (tracking/apprehension).”

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