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Bowman County welcomes four-legged deputy

Lulu, a drug sniffing canine that recently joined the Bowman County Sheriff's Department was called on twice during her first day on the job.

Dunn and Lulu
Bowman County Sheriff's Sgt. Colin Dunn and his canine partner Lulu recently began working as a team.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press
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BOWMAN, N.D. — When Lulu, a Belgian Malinois, was sworn in as the newest Bowman County Sheriff's officer on December 6, she proved to be an invaluable asset in her very first shift when she helped seize illegal drugs her first day on the job.

Sgt. Colin Dunn, her handler, explained that the four-legged officer was called into action twice on her first day, once by the Bowman County Sheriff's Office and once by the Bowman Police Department, with success. Marijuana, and Marijuana Paraphernalia were seized during the Bowman County call.

Dunn, whose love of animals is what first interested him in being a K9 handler, says working with the newest officer has been a privilege.

“It's kind of an honor, not very many people get to run a canine,” Dunn said. “There's also a lot more case law that goes into it. When you run a dog, you have to run the dog in a way that you protect people's rights and still accomplish your job and that's really important to me.”

He added Bowman County Sheriff Frank Eberle’s main rules are simple:

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“Do not trample on people's rights and go catch bad guys,” Dunn said. “With a canine, I can accomplish both of those at the same time, very easily.”

Dunn and Lulu
Bowman County Sheriff's Sgt. Colin Dunn rewards his partner, Lulu with a game of tug of war after she found drugs in a vehicle during training Dec. 27.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Dunn said although Bowman County doesn’t have a big drug problem, Lulu is a great deterrent. Keeping drug activity low also cuts down on other crime in the community, he added.

“I can get called out anywhere within two hours of my location for another jurisdiction,” Dunn said. “So it's just another tool in the toolbox. Because people like to see proactivity in the community. When they see Lulu out on a car, they know what's happening.”

Eberle said he is very pleased with Lulu’s performance already.

“So far, I'm absolutely blown out of the water,” he said. “She's got a great nose. Colin’s working with her and she's just leaps and bounds ahead of what I expected for her age.”

Dunn said Lulu loves to play with his other, personal dog and the pair get along well.

“She is a friendly dog who loves attention and socialization, though she is not to be petted while working,” Dunn said. “Lulu’s motivation is nearly constant and she needs to be physically and mentally stimulated through play, exercise, obedience training, and puzzle games. Fitting of the Malinois stereotype, she loves to chew things when she is not being watched and if her handler does not entertain her, she will find a way to entertain herself. She is a very intelligent dog and is an extremely quick learner. Lulu does not sniff people nor does she ingest any narcotic in either training or deployments. She is not trained to bite people or subdue them. She will not blindly listen to commands by another person or listen to commands to do something of which her handler would not approve.”

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Bowman County Canine Deputy Lulu practices her drug sniffing skills with her handler, Sgt. Colin Dunn at the Bowman County Courthouse Dec. 27.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

The canine program in Bowman County began with fundraising efforts in 2019. About $30,000 was raised through donations from Bowman County residents, local businesses, and others, Dunn said.The program has been funded solely by those donations, Eberle said.

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“My intentions are to continue with donations and into the new year, I'm going to send out some letters and request some more assistance from the community for the program,” Eberle said.

A chocolate labrador retriever named Ruby was the first deputy canine in Bowman County. Like Lulu, she was a single purpose deputy, meaning her sole duty is to sniff out drugs. She was able to find various drugs on many occasions and participated in public safety demonstrations, school deployments, and health and welfare checks, Dunn said.

“Unfortunately, Ruby’s time with us was cut short due to the early onset of a rare cancer,” Dunn said.

After being a loyal partner to Dunn for nearly two years, she passed away in his arms on Oct. 4, four days before her fifth birthday. The loss was heartbreaking for Dunn, Bowman County staff and residents that knew and loved her, Dunn said. It was important to him that the canine program live on in her legacy.

Ruby
Ruby, the first dog to be a part of Bowman County Sheriff's Office's canine program, passed away in October.
Contributed / Bowman County Sheriff's Office

“The decision was made to utilize the donated funds left in the specifically earmarked canine account for the purchase and training of another canine deputy,” he said. “Then, the Bowman

County Sheriff’s Office purchased Lulu, a 13-month-old Belgian Malinois, from North Iowa K-9, the same place where Ruby originated.”

In November, Dunn traveled to North Iowa K-9 in Humboldt, Iowa, where he met and bonded with Lulu. The pair trained together and were certified for formal use in late November.

“I just love the challenge of it,” Dunn said. “Dog training and working with dogs is a lot of work, but it's super rewarding. So that's why I do what I do.”

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The team will report back to North Iowa K-9 in May for their final round of training, which will include evidence recovery and tracking. Dunn said the cost to purchase Lulu and for training totaled $9,250.

Dunn and lulu
Lulu tells Sgt. Colin Dunn that she's found drugs by sitting.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Dunn is an active Army veteran through his time at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Sergeant in the North Dakota Army National Guard. He began his law enforcement career as an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy in August 2015 where he worked for 22 months. He spent three years away from law enforcement as a gun salesman, but then signed on as a part-time deputy with the Bowman County Sheriff’s Office in April 2020. He started full time patrol that November and transitioned to being the canine handler in January 2021.

Dunn is licensed to use federally provided, real narcotics to train Lulu.

“Lulu trains almost every day, including days off,” Dunn said. “The Bowman County Sheriff’s Policy allows for training during every patrol shift.”

He is scheduling many training events to get Lulu involved in the community, including a Sheriff’s Office meet and greet, a public safety demonstration, school deployments and school assemblies.

Dunn said he and Lulu are grateful for the community’s support of the canine program.

“We look forward to our numerous projects and the continued honor to carry out the Bowman County Sheriff’s Office mission of keeping Bowman County one of the safest and most enjoyable places to live and visit in the state of North Dakota and in the nation,” Dunn said.

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Sgt. Colin Dunn and Lulu search for drugs outside the Bowman County Courthouse Dec. 27.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Related Topics: DICKINSONBowman, N.D.DRUGS
Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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