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'Sweetheart' pups paw through tough competition

Ten officers compete for 'Top Dog' status at county fairgrounds


NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: KATHY FULLER - Washington County Sheriffs Deputy Joe Yazzolino, left, defends an attack from K9 officer Taz as his handler, Deputy Don Maller looks on.The competition was tough as canine officers and their handlers competed for the title of “Top Dog” in front of a big crowd at the Washington County Fairgrounds last Saturday afternoon.

An annual outreach event hosted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the friendly competition among the furry officers drew 10 K9 teams, four from WCSO and others as far away as the Springfield Police Department and the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office.

The dogs — seemingly happy to display their police dog prowess in front of a crowd — competed in six events, from fastest dog to handler protection to an agility course.

WCSO K9 Chase and his handler, Deputy Michael Zaugg took home top honors. Chase had the fastest time in all six events combined.

“I’ve never been to this before,” said Hillsboro resident Beth Drennen, who attended the event with her son. “These dogs are amazing.”

In a demonstration of narcotics tracking, WCSO Deputy Don Maller led his K9 counterpart Taz to sniff out methamphetamines and marijuana hidden in a car in a matter of seconds.A large crown turned out on a warm afternoon last Saturday to watch ten K9 officers demonstrate their speed, agility and those fabulous sniffers at the 10th annual Washington County Sheriffs Office K9 trials.

Highly trained K9 officers help their handlers in an array of tactics, including apprehending suspects, searching buildings and vehicles, detecting narcotics and protecting deputies and community members.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said suspects who hear a dog bark or see a K9 officer arrive on scene are much more likely to be docile.

“The trials are a great event,” Garrett said, adding that the K9 program does community outreach all year long.COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE - K9 Chase took Top Dog honors at Saturdays trials. His handler is Deputy Michael Zaugg. The two joined the WSCO K9 team this year.

Kaitlan Gantt, who has volunteered at the trials as a timekeeper for the last few years, also helped award medals to the winners.

“It’s not scary” to place the medals around the dogs’ necks, she said.

“They’re sweethearts.”

K9 Ranger drags Washington County Sheriffs Deputy Nick Jones out of a vehichle during a suspect extrication drill. At right is Rangers handler Deputy Todd Weber of the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office.

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