Deputy Sheriff Elizabeth Smith has combined her two loves -- law enforcement and animals -- by donating her dog to the county Sheriff's office for training as a K-9, bomb dog.
Anne Arundel has two dogs trained to sniff out explosives, one assigned to the county police department and another working with the state police at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said Sheriff Robert Pepersack.
"Response time can be up to two hours," said Pepersack. "We don'tneed those kind of things very often, but we have had four bomb threats at Circuit Court and one at District Court recently."
The dog,"Duke," is a 26-month-old AKC-registered German shepherd. He will bestationed in Annapolis to help keep the courts secure, said Pepersack.
"Certain dogs are working dogs and he is a working breed," explained Smith, a supervisor for the Civil Process Division, who will become the dog's handler. "He is much happier when he is working."
After Pepersack's election last November, Smith proposed the idea of using Duke for police duty. In January a bomb threat forced the closure of the county courthouse for four hours until a dog arrived.
After another threat was called in to District Court in An
napolis last month, Pepersack decided to take Smith up on her offer.
Duke will cost the department about $3,500 a year for veterinarian fees and food, Smith estimated. Money is being raised through donations made to the Sheriff's Foundation, a non-profit corporation, said Pepersack.
The fund-raising effort is being coordinated by Smith andBruce C.Bereano, an Annapolis attorney and lobbyist. Bereano is sponsoring a$100 per plate breakfast Sept. 5 at the Annapolis Ramada. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 106, is selling raffle tickets to help the cause.
Pepersack wants to add $10,000 to the fund for a vehicle to carry the dog in case of emergencies outside the courthouse. Thecanine will be shared between all law enforcement agencies in the county and state, he said.
"We are going to try to get a new vehicle. But if we can't, then we'll convert an existing car with the Sheriff's Department," said Pepersack.
The Annapolis Police Department offered Duke a home in the Annapolis City Police kennel, he added.
Duke is not real excited about preparation for his new job, said Smith.
"At this point all it has meant is trips to the vet to make sure he is physically fit. But, he loves meeting all the people, and he likes the attention so far.
"Once he is trained," she added, "he won't be able to have the attention he has now, I don't want him to bea courthouse pet."
Duke and Smith will leave for the Smithsonian Institute for 16 weeks training in mid-September. The institute offers specialized training for dogs and handlers.
For information on donating, purchasing a breakfast ticket or buying a raffle ticket callBereano's office at 267-0410 or Deputy Smith at 222-1490.