Meet Oregon's state police drug dogs

SALEM, Ore. - Two new state police troopers - check that, woofers - are ready for their first assignments.

Hank, a 23-month-old yellow lab, and Thunder, a 17-month-old black lab, finished training and joined 8 other Oregon State Police drug detection canines.

Hank was assigned to central Oregon; Thunder is headed for eastern Oregon. The dogs are paired with specially trained troopers and stationed at strategic state police offices across the state.

"The OSP Drug Detection Canine program plays an important role in finding illegal drugs and related evidence on our highways and in local communities. They are an important partner for our Department and public safety partners on and off the road," said Sergeant David Beck, OSP Drug Detection Canine program coordinator who has worked with dogs for over 20 years.

In 2011, Oregon State Police credit drug detection dogs with sniffing out:

  • Over 600 pounds of Marijuana
  • 84 pounds of Methamphetamine
  • 58 pounds of Cocaine
  • Over 8 pounds of Heroin
  • 6 pounds of Psilocybin Mushrooms
  • Other evidence and illegal proceeds related to drug crimes

The dog's training includes an intensive two-week OSP drug detection handler course and certification process designed to detect odors from controlled substances including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

The majority of searches involving OSP drug detection canines occur along the highway during vehicle stops when couriers try to conceal drugs and other evidence to avoid discovery.

"The dog's keen sense of smell is far superior to that of any person, making the dogs an invaluable resource when searching vehicles, buildings, storage facilities, luggage and other environments," Beck said.

Securing the two new drug detection canines was made possible with the support of members of Oregon's legislature including State Representative Greg Smith and State Senator Jackie Winters.

"Dogs are an essential part of any law enforcement team. I'm proud to have worked with fellow legislators to secure the necessary funding to acquire these dogs and am confident these newest additions to the Oregon State Police will help keep dangerous drugs out of our communities," said Representative Smith.

"Providing resources for OSP drug detection canines was one of my top priorities. I welcome Hank and Thunder who will help our troopers keep our highways & communities safer from drug traffickers," said Senator Winters.