Dillingham Puts Drug Dog "Lutri" Up For Adoption

Jan 10, 2014

Council passes one resolution thanking a recently transferred WAANT investigator for his service, and another putting the Lutri up for adoption.

DILLINGHAM: Two resolutions adopted by the city council at its Thursday meeting do not seem to bode well for the drug enforcement efforts in Dillingham.  

First on the agenda was 2014-08, "a resolution of the Dillingham city council to offer thanks and commendation to Alaska State Trooper Investigator Nasruk Nay for his service to the city of Dillingham," said Mayor Alice Ruby.

That resolution was passed unanimously, and several city council members spoke approvingly of Investigator Nay’s six year tenure as the WAANT officer based in Dillingham.

Nay recently took another position within the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit and moved to the Anchorage area. It could be months until a replacement takes over at Dillingham WAANT, which has led the region's drug and alcohol enforcement efforts.

Also adopted unanimously by the council was a resolution to put the city’s drug-sniffing dog Lutri up for adoption.

Lutri, a highly-trained Dutch Shepherd, is being offered for adoption by the city of Dillingham. Without a handler and regular work, the 4-year-old's talents and energy will begin to fade. Officers and AST say Lutri has been an invaluable asset to Dillingham's drug enforcement efforts since 2012.

"We purchased Lutri in 2012, using asset forfeiture funds," said city manager Rose Loerra. "And we’ve had two officers that were assigned to work with Lutri, and both of them have moved on."

The city purchased Lutri for roughly $8,000, and spent thousands more annually on food, vet bills, transportation, and mandatory training. Both of the police handlers had been sent to certification courses to work with Lutri, which is required for the dog to participate in a legal search. 

But without a handler, the highly trained, four-year-old Dutch Shepherd sits idle at the police station.

"Lutri’s been without an officer and has not been working as a drug dog for the past three months," said Loerra, "and we’re recommending that we adopt him out so that he can do the work that he was trained to do.”

Dutch Shepherds have a working life of roughly 10 years, but need to be kept active and engaged in their job to prevent loss of skill and motivation.

Loerra said that the AST post in Ketchikan expressed interest in adopting Lutri and putting him to work. Lutri may now be heading that way within the month.

Lutri has unfortunately become a costly, unused asset for the city. The police department was wary of investing more of its tight budget towards dog-handler training for other officers, considering how quickly the previous two officers departed.  

But at Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Ruby pointed out that giving Lutri up for adoption shouldn’t be taken as a signal that the city is opting for a lighter approach to drug enforcement.

"This, by no means, means that we don’t recognize the need for enforcement of drug and alcohol issues in the region," said Ruby. "We all know we need aggressive effort, and we need resources. And we need a well-planned long term plan."

There is concern that without a drug dog in the city, and without a WAANT investigator in the region, the progress made combating the importation of drugs and alcohol could begin to unravel. 

As a side note, some "unraveling" seemed to be the case this past week, based on a strong smell at the Dillingham post office which many likened to marijuana. 

Drugs were not the culprit for the smell, KDLG News has learned. A bottle of skunk essence used for trapping lure was to actually to blame for the pungent aroma.