BEND, Ore. — The newest addition to the Bend police force is a dog from Walla Walla.
The Bend Police Department recently announced the addition of a new K-9 team, featuring Sassy.
Sassy was adopted from the Blue Mountain Humane Society in Walla Walla and was selected to go through training with the Washington Department of Corrections. She’s believed to be about 3 years old and is some sort of a Australian Kelpie mix.
While Sassy was training at the Washington school, she met police officer Jeff Perkins, who was also going through the seven-week training school.
Perkins said there were 10 dogs in training at the school and three people training to be their handlers. The dogs were rotated through as each handler got a chance to see if each dog was a good fit. Perkins connected with Sassy through the process.
“A lot of it has to do with how the dog responds to the handler,” Perkins said. He said the instructors also have a good feel for how the dogs respond to each person.
Once Sassy and Perkins were deemed to be a good fit, the training continued and when it was complete, Sassy got to go to a new job and a new home.
Sassy is now certified through both the Washington State Police Canine Association and the Oregon Police Canine Association.
“I think it’s a cool program,” Perkins said. “I think it’s cool that we have a program where we get to take these dogs that people, for all intents and purposes, have thrown away and we get to give them a second chance and some purpose.”
In fact, the “throw-away” dogs are exactly the type of dogs the program wants.
According to the DOC website, the trainers look for adoptable dogs that are typically too hyper for most people — the type of dogs who relentlessly search for the next thing to fetch. Those are the type of dogs perfect for sniffing out narcotics.
Once a stray, Sassy will now roam the streets again, only this time she won’t be alone. She will spend her time sniffing out drug odors in vehicles, packages, buildings and at crime scenes during work hours.
While off duty, she will likely be at home relaxing on the couch with her new family, according to the department.
“She’s very happy to have a place that’s not a kennel,” Perkins said. “Kennel life can be very stressful on the dogs, so it’s good for her to have a home.”
Sassy also joins Ladybug as the other drug detection dog at the department. Both dogs will get additional training every week, as is customary.
Perkins was selected as a drug detection dog handler in October 2019 and was then certified through the Washington school, where he was introduced to his K-9 partner.
Perkins has been a police officer for more than 14 years and he’s an instructor of tactical force. He is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.