Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Missoula County Sheriff’s Office K9 Xander is in competition with working K9s from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for up to $15,000 in grants from a group called Aftermath, a company that specializes in trauma cleaning and biohazard removal.

KGVO News and other local media were invited to the Missoula County Detention Center on Wednesday to meet K9 Xander and his partner Senior Deputy Justin Uriate to find out more about the K9 program and the competition.

Senior Deputy Uriarte provided details about Xander.

Meet MCSO K9 Xander and his Partner Senior Deputy Justin Uriarte

“He's a Dutch Shepherd,” began Uriarte. “He's just a little over two years old. I had him from the day he turned one. I picked him up in North Carolina and got him off the plane when he turned one year old on that day. The way that we're doing it, you're getting a dog at a year old and you're building that bond and then you get a longer time with the dog as well.”

Lieutenant Danny White explained where the funds came from to purchase and train Xander.

“Xander was actually purchased with grant funds from an MKRP grant,” said Lieutenant White. “It’s the Marijuana Canine Replacement Grant. Two years ago, our office received funds from that grant to replace our dogs because of the change in the laws. We wanted to make sure that our dogs were not indicating on substances that were now legal. I just wanted to make sure that we covered the fact that that's where Xander is actually the replacement where he was purchased from.”

Xander is Specially Trained for the Sheriff's Department

Senior Deputy Uriarte explained the duties the K9’s are trained to provide for the Sheriff’s Department.

“Our program started in 2016, and I've got two dogs in there; one that started then and then Xander is the new one,” said Uriarte. “Both of the dogs are considered dual purpose dogs,  meaning that they do patrol work, apprehension tracking, evidence searches, and they also do narcotics, so if an officer believes there's a suspicion of narcotics being brought into the county and they they're on a traffic stop, the dogs can sniff the vehicle and help provide probable cause for a warrant.”

Senior Deputy Uriarte explained the online competition for Aftermath grants.

You can Help Xander win by Casting your Vote Online

“It's done by a group called Aftermath, and they're providing money to help develop canines,” he said. “Whether it's canine safety equipment, training, and other things, that's where the money from that grant goes. Basically, we put up a profile of the dog online and people can go check it out and then you just vote for the dog that is in your area that you feel passionate enough to vote for. The winner of that gets, I believe its $2,500 per region.”

Click here to cast your vote for K9 Xander.

KGVO got an up close and personal greeting from Xander when our microphone got a little too close to Senior Deputy Uriarte and Xander very efficiently made sure it was no longer a perceived threat. No harm done.

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