San Juan County police K-9 Sucia is laying down her snout and turning in her badge as she retires from her drug-busting job. In a council meeting on Feb. 15, a motion was passed to hold a public hearing on March 25 for the proposal of returning Sucia to her handler Jay Holt.
The German shorthaired pointer had just joined the police department in 2020 from the East Coast at two years old. Since then, due to the Blake Decision, she has run out of work.
Councilmember Milene Henley, inquired in the meeting Tuesday, February 15, “What do you do with an $11,000 dog that cannot do her job?”
Washington v. Blake was filed Feb. 25, 2021. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s felony drug possession statute was unconstitutional. The case was brought about in 2016 when Shannon Blake was arrested and convicted of drug possession. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, she claimed to have not known that there was a bag of methamphetamine in the jeans she was borrowing from a friend. It was a five to four ruling.
With the recent law changes, drug-busting dogs are less needed- which Sucia excelled at. She was trained to sniff out cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, and methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. She was never trained to detect marijuana due to state laws legalizing the substance.
Her keen sense of smell also put her on the roster for being able to track dementia and Alzheimer patients who had gotten lost.
Sheriff Ron Krebs said that they tried to give her to other agencies, but nobody wanted her because all other police departments are getting rid of their dogs as well.
He also stated that the option of keeping her for search and rescue was considered, but the county does not receive enough of these cases for it to make financial sense.
Henley mentioned that due to Robby’s Law, there are restrictions surrounding the retirement of police K-9’s. This law, which was passed by Congress in 2000, requires that it is reported to Congress how many military dogs are adopted, transferred, and euthanized. This is meant to prevent military and police dogs from being abandoned after retirement.
With Sucia being an asset worth more than $2,500, this also comes into play, which is why a public hearing is required to be held before this decision is made.
Despite her retirement, Sucia will remain an island dog, as her handler, Holt, resides on San Juan. Holt has been a certified handler with San Juan County since 2020.
“We’ve enjoyed having her,” said Krebs.