Former Nez Perce Tribal Police Officer Fighting to Keep His K9 Partner
ST. MARIES, ID - A former Nez Perce Tribal Police Officer who moved to a different Idaho law enforcement agency is fighting to keep his partner, K9 Officer "Ruger." Dustin Pulley left the Lapwai-based department for the Benewah County Sheriff's Office about two weeks ago because his wife wanted to relocate closer to family and she had been hired as a dispatcher for that agency.
Pulley began his law enforcement career in 2006 and worked with the Nez Perce Tribal Police Department since November 2013. His 5-year-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix partner has been in service since May 2014.
Pulley says he left after making a verbal agreement with Julie Cane, an attorney with the Tribe's Law and Order Committee to purchase Ruger.
"I agreed to pay for the price for Ruger and use my annual and comp time which is about $4,500," Pulley says.
Pulley says this week he received a call from a Tribal Police Captain telling him to turn Ruger in to a Moscow kennel by tomorrow.
"Now after being gone for almost two weeks they want to try and take Ruger back and see if they can place him with another handler. They are not only taking him, but he is a son to me," Pulley says.
This past May, Pulley and Ruger were named the fastest and best drug detection K9 team in Idaho, earning 1st place in the Narcotic Trial Competition at the Idaho Police K9 Association Seminar. They beat out 50 other teams, with the 2nd place winner a full minute behind them.
Pulley is concerned that being apart from Ruger will have a negative effect on the canine.
"He will feel like I've abandoned him and hopefully his health doesn't decline after being locked up in a kennel like a criminal," Pulley says. "Ya and he won't eat and he will think I've abandoned him."
Pulley says he may be able to speak to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee in about three weeks to plead his case, but in the meantime, he is supposed to turn Ruger in to the kennel tomorrow.
A Nez Perce Tribe lawyer says they will comment on the situation tomorrow.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist with any possible legal bills: https://www.gofundme.com/keep-k9-ruger-with-handler
STATEMENT from the Nez Perce Tribe:
The Nez Perce Tribe is committed to providing the highest quality law enforcement on the Nez Perce Reservation through the Nez Perce Tribal Police Department (NPTPD). As a result, over the past several years, the Tribe has invested heavily in the development and deployment of K-9 units to address drug crimes on the Nez Perce Reservation.
Dustin Pulley was hired by the NPTPD as part of the K-9 program. Mr. Pulley was assigned to handle Ruger, a NPTPD K-9 dog that the Tribe purchased and invested substantial resources in training. Ruger has become an essential component of the Tribe’s efforts to combat drug-related crime on the Nez Perce Reservation. The Nez Perce Tribe appreciates the outstanding service Mr. Pulley has provided in his role with the K-9 program and his work with Ruger, which has resulted in the seizure of thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs on the Nez Perce Reservation and in surrounding communities. Mr. Pulley’s K-9 unit has also worked with a variety of state, federal and county agencies to combat drug use as well. Unfortunately, Mr. Pulley elected to resign from his position with the NPTPD to pursue another job. Although Mr. Pulley has requested the opportunity to purchase Ruger from the NPTPD, after careful consideration, the Tribe has determined Ruger’s service is essential to continuing the work of the NPTPD and keeping our communities safe. The Tribe respects Mr. Pulley’s decision and wishes him success at his new job.
With Mr. Pulley’s departure from the NPTPD, the Tribe has started working to transition Ruger to a new handler. The Nez Perce Tribe is committed to providing the best care available for Ruger during this transition. The Nez Perce Tribe looks forward to continuing to employ Ruger’s outstanding skills to combat drug trafficking on the Nez Perce Reservation.