Clatsop County's newest patrol deputy can sniff out illegal drugs better than any other deputy. And all the pay he wants is a rolled-up terry cloth towel to chew.

Deputy "Lou" is a purebred yellow Labrador retriever. The frisky 11/2-year-old is specially trained to detect marijuana, hashish, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. He partners with Deputy Matt Phillips and is available to assist all local police agencies.

"Lou can search for narcotics in a wide range of situations, from vehicle stops to search warrants. Lou is a great asset to the law enforcement community and will help take dangerous drugs off the streets," Phillips said. Deputy Phillips completed an 80-hour handler course with Lou at Canine Control of Nashville, Tenn.

The Clatsop County Sheriff's Office purchased Lou thanks to generous contributions from local service clubs, businesses and citizens. About a year ago, Sheriff Tom Bergin, then the agency's chief deputy, mentioned to Astoria Public Works Director Mitch Mitchum the need for funds to acquire a new narcotics canine. Mitchum volunteered to spearhead fund-raising efforts.

He solicited donations from the Astoria Rotary Club, Astoria Lions, Astoria Clowns, Astoria Kiwanis, the Gibbens family and Pacific Coast Medical Supply, owned by Norm Stutzenegger. Mitchum also dipped into his wallet.

Mike Scholerman, owner of Pappa Jack's in Warrenton, donated a quality chain-link kennel and dog food for the new deputy.

Lou is the Sheriff's Office second canine member. Dax, a German shepherd trained as a tracking/handler protection dog, has been with the agency for six years. Dax rides with Deputy Ken McCoy.

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