Joshua Dillen
The Baker City Herald

The youngest member of Baker City’s police force turned four on Feb. 27.

A bit too young for a patrol officer, but it’s an age that qualifies as an adult when it comes to dogs.

Capa, the Baker City Police Department’s drug-detecting canine, has been a member of the force for nearly 2 years.

“He’s just a cool dog,” said Sgt. Wayne Chastain, Capa’s handler.

Chastain even had the drug-detecting dynamo’s passport to prove his age.

“February 27 of 2014 was when he was born in Deutschland — Germany,” Chastain said as he examined the information in Capa’s passport.

From Germany, Capa, a Belgian Malinois cross, ended up at a training facility in Florida where he was purchased by Baker City through community donations.

Chastain said Capa’s food, kennels and veterinary care are paid for through donations as well.

That was the case with Casa’s predecessor, Turbo.

“We do not have a budgeted taxpayer line for him,” Chastain said. “That was one of the selling points with Turbo when we started this program — this would be all donation and grant funded. We would not tap into the tax base to pay for him.”

Capa’s energy and dedication to his job were obvious as the drug-sniffing dynamo demonstrated his abilities Tuesday at the police station.

Chastain had set up four scent boxes — one with a sample of heroin — to show off Capa’s abilities.

As soon as Chastain let Capa into the room, he yipped with excitement and raced to the boxes, sniffing each one before returning and alerting to the one that contained the heroin.

As a reward, the box ejected a yellow ball via the signal of a remote control device held by Chastain.

He said Capa is always working and looking for that reward.

“The way these detection dogs work is they are imprinted to odors we want them to alert to,” he said.

Capa is trained to alert on methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. Chastain said Capa has imprinted on those scents and is always ready to alert on them because he knows he will get rewarded with his toy.

“He thinks he is hunting for his toy,” Chastain said. “In his mind, those three odors are his toy.”

He said it’s a common misconception that drug-detection dogs are trained to find a drug. They are actually looking for the odor that means they will get their toy.

Capa’s training has proved to be an asset to Baker City Police. In the two years that Chastain has been his handler, Capa has been responsible for 29 meth seizures totalling 910 grams, four heroin seizures totalling 83 grams and one cocaine seizure of 1.6 grams.

“That’s a lot of drugs that’s been gotten off the streets,” Chastain said.

See more in the March 14, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.