The newest Albany police officer is movie-star handsome, possesses superb athletic skills and, according to his coworkers, is both tireless and fearless.
On the job only a few months, he is so well known that he goes by a single name — Kovu — like music stars Cher and Beyonce.
And his handler, Perry Baker, says the 2-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog is already earning his keep, locating more than 5 pounds of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Kovu succeeds Nacho, who retired after many years of service.
“He’s great,” Baker said. “He loves to work. He will wear himself out working. It takes a lot out of him.”
Baker hopes that with good health, Kovu can be on duty until he is at least 10 years old.
Baker spent five years with the Junction City Police Department and came to Albany four years ago.
He enjoys dogs, which led him to take canine training and to team up with Kovu in April.
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“I completed a 200-hour handler’s course in Deschutes County,” Baker said.
Kovu was trained in Medford.
Baker said he knew he and Kovu would be a good team “30 seconds after meeting him.” Kovu had already been “imprinted” to search for drugs.
“He is happy, playful,” Baker said. “He’s also curious and loves to play. He’s pretty obedient and not difficult to control.”
Baker said he deploys Kovu two or three times per week.
He also uses lunch breaks and down times for training exercises.
“We are always looking or a dog’s weak spots to work on,” Baker said.
When he’s not on duty, Kovu lives with Baker and his family, along with their Lab mix, Stella.
“They get along well, but we keep them mostly separated,” Baker said. “Kovu is great with other dogs, but she’s a working dog and we don’t want to change that.”
Kovu joins the department's patrol dogs, Chetco and Jager.
“It’s amazing how smart they are,” Baker said.