Police dog

There's nothing like a friendly dog to bring a smile to a child's face, as seen here at Sunday's Benton County Sheriff's Office chili cook-off. Deputy Jesse Blaser kneels down while Elie Ryan, 6, of Corvallis, pets "Tommy," a 2-year-old drug-sniffing K-9 officer. The Philomath Police Department hopes to bring back a K-9 dog to its staff in the near future but would more immediately like to find a station dog to provide companionship to officers and comfort to station visitors.

BRAD FUQUA, PHILOMATH EXPRESS

The Philomath Police Department wants to expand its staff. But for those who want to apply, you must enjoy lots of attention, not bite and eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor. You'll also need references.

Yes, the local police is looking for a station dog.

"For the last year, we have been trying to find an organization to donate us a dog to live in the office," Philomath Chief of Police Ken Rueben said. "The reason, believe it or not, other than having a companion here because we're here 24/7 ... we have so many victims and kids that come in here in really dire situations."

Children who have been abused or traumatized through domestic violence situations or adults who have been victims of a violent crime are among those who come to mind as someone who might find a calming effect of a gentle dog.

"The dog would be here just to be a distraction basically for somebody who's going through something really painful," Rueben said.

Rueben has experienced the effect firsthand. It's standard to have a station dog in Los Angeles, a place where Rueben formerly worked.

"People love dogs and when they're going through a bad situation and you've got a dog you can just have in the room with them, it's just amazing," Rueben said. "It's just a completely different atmosphere with the dog in the room than without. They automatically become best buddies with a kid and it makes a big difference for us."

Rueben said the department would like a gentle, adult dog with a history that can be verified.

"We can't keep a puppy here and devote time to train it, so we need an adult dog," Rueben said. "On the other side of it, we can't just take any old dog because we need to know the temperament. If it's had problems or bit somebody in the past and we don't know (that could be a liability issue). So we're trying to get one of these breeders that has a good dog."

Rueben mentioned breeds such as golden retriever or a lab as possible candidates.

"A really good-tempered dog, but it's got to be a dog that we know the track record," he reiterated. "We're hoping some local breeder might have one that they'd be willing to donate to us. But we'll see."

Philomath Police was put on a waiting list for a station dog through a Portland-based organization that trains guide dogs for the blind. Not all dogs qualify to be a guide dog after going through training. But that doesn't appear to be an option based on guidelines that organization has in place.

"We're not a house and they have a rule that these dogs have to go to a house," Rueben said. "Even though this building looks like a house and we have somebody here 24/7 every day of the year, they weren't comfortable putting us high up on the list because we don't have a family here."

This past weekend's Benton County Chili Cook-off raised money for K-9 police dog programs, which are different than station comfort dogs. Philomath had a police dog from 2006-11 and would like to bring in another one. Rueben said the department has been going through the process of establishing a foundation, which could receive final approval by the end of this month, to buy a police dog with private money.

With the nonprofit status, those who donate would be able to deduct those amounts on their federal tax returns.

"Having a K-9 for a police department is awesome for many, many reasons," Rueben said. "No. 1, for drug intervention, but also for community relations."

However, the public should not be confused. A K-9 officer would be in addition to a station dog, which would also be a part of the community.

"We could still take him to the schools and he'd be a part of the department," Rueben said. "We'd give him a patrol number and the whole schmear. But we'd love not just a K-9 that we're going to raise money for the counter-drug stuff but actually one living here."

K-9 dogs live with their handlers/partners. For example, Philomath's last police dog, "Ilox," lived with then-Ofc. Dave Gurski.

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