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Dunn County Sheriff's Department to get new drug-sniffing dog after last K-9 goes AWOL

The Dunn County Sheriff's Department is still missing Rex, its drug-sniffing, 3-year-old male Labrador retriever K-9. The dog hasn't been seen since the end of March.

Commissioner Bob Kleeman questioned exactly how the dog went missing, and Deputy Shawn Murphy, who has been selected to become the new K-9 deputy, said he was not sure how the dog escaped at the end of last month, but said the dog did have a few issues that might have led to its running away.

"I had heard it might have been mistreated before," Murphy said. "K-9 Rex was skittish around males and I never saw the dog on a leash before."

He also said the dog's former handler was not trained in school with the dog, which is necessary to make sure the two are compatible.

To help the county fund the purchase and upkeep of a new K-9, Murphy said he has been in talks with people at Target Logistics and the company has said it would donate funds to help pay for a new dog, though he said the company had not set an exact amount it would.

He also said the sheriff's department has a vehicle already outfitted for a K-9.

Murphy said he has found a training facility in Indiana where he and the dog could be trained together for a little more than $12,000. In total, Murphy estimated that a new dog might cost $13,000 to $14,000.

As the handler, Murphy said the new dog would also be bunking with him, and said he had other housing options if his current residence would not allow the dog.

Commissioner Reinhardt Hauck said the county is in need of a new drug-sniffing dog, as issues with drugs have grown as the county's population has grown and drugs are presenting even more of a problem for local law enforcement.

Also, in an effort to help with the work load at the sheriff's department, the commissioners agreed to purchase a scale and hire another deputy to assist with checking weights of trucks on county roads, which will help keep excessively heavy loads from wreaking havoc.

"I would not say that there would be someone out there 24/7, but there would be someone running the scales out there," said Deputy Ken Gietzen.

The position, an additional vehicle and equipment, including a scale, is estimated to cost the county $150,000 to $160,000.

"When we only have two people on during a shift, that means that one person is taking calls, while the other is running the scale," said Chief Deputy Matt Hegstad. "If we had a guy that we could dedicate to do nothing but run the scales, it would mean two deputies would be out and it would be safer for the guys."