PORTERDALE - A new lieutenant has joined the Porterdale Police force; he won't be driving a patrol car, but once he hits the streets, he could very well be barking out orders. Lt. "Beau," a trained and certified drug-sniffing dog, has been donated to the Porterdale department by another small-town police force in Georgia.
Porterdale Chief Wayne Digby told the City Council Monday night that the department became the beneficiary of the gift from the Varnell Police Department last week.
Digby, who has been chief of the Porterdale Police Department since the first of the year, said he was attending a training school for chiefs of police in Duluth last week when he learned that the dog was available. Digby said the 31/2-year-old golden retriever came complete with a badge and a 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe equipped with lights, canine officer markings and transport cages for both prisoners and the canine.
Lyle Grant, who is chief of the Varnell Police Department in Whitfield County, said he decided to donate the dog because he had no one trained to handle it.
"Our canine officer went to Afghanistan, and I wasn't going to reassign one of my patrolmen to canine. So, we decided to go ahead and donate the canine to a police department where it could continue being used," Grant said.
Grant said his department purchased the dog in 2006 using funds from drug seizures and forfeitures. He said the dog itself is worth around $10,000.
"He's a good dog; he's caught quite a few drugs up here," Grant said.
Varnell, a town of about 1,500, is located just north of Dalton. Grant said the department has three full-time and seven part-time officers.
"We have dogs available in the area, so as far as economics are concerned, it was more economical for us to use the county's dog or another department's," Grant said.
Digby said Beau has been assigned to Lt. Chad Bowen and the two are in school in Rockdale County. Digby said the pair has bonded well and will be ready to hit the streets in about six weeks.
"The dog is already trained and certified in all the drugs that you run into on the street," Digby said, "but the handler has to learn what the dog knows now."