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first_imgRunning his nose along the carpet, Luca sniffed a pile of phone books on the floor before lifting his head to a wooden bench in the dimly lit room.Within seconds, the 19-month-old German shepherd stopped and whipped his head back and forth as his ears perked up and his tail started to wag. Putting his paws on the bench, he lifted himself up. The muscles of his furry body tightened as he put his nose to a black fan perched on an alcove in the wall.“Find! Find,” yelled his handler, Battle Ground police Officer Chris Crouch. His four-legged partner had smelled out the heroin hidden inside.Luca is one of several dogs going through a 10-week canine academy — the first set of local police dogs not being trained to detect marijuana.“We’re going through the exact same training process we have in the past, we’re just not doing that odor,” said Jack Anderson, canine trainer with the Vancouver Police Department.Officers in the room tossed the dog a large rubber toy, which Luca snatched from the air and wrestled to the ground.“That’s payday,” Anderson said. “No stipends, no checks, just toys.”The training includes teaching the dogs to bite hostile suspects, track humans and sniff out illegal drugs.That list of drugs has shrunk from five to four: heroin, methamphetamine and crystal and powder forms of cocaine.With the passage of Initiative 502, Washington residents older than 21 can legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana among other amounts of marijuana-infused products.The county recently saw the addition of six new police dogs — the Clark County Sheriff’s Office added three dogs this year while Vancouver, Battle Ground and Washougal police departments each added one dog.last_img read more