Pacific County Deputy Jesse Eastham and K9 Kreed posed for a portrait beside the courthouse duck pond earlier this year.

LONG BEACH — After only five months of service, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office has abruptly retired K9 Kreed, described by the office on June 1 as an “excellent addition” in the county’s efforts to curb illicit drug sales.

According to public records obtained by the Chinook Observer, two particular incidents earlier this spring and summer led to the dog’s sudden departure.

A bit barky

The first incident unfolded less than two weeks into his career on April 5, when Kreed and handler Deputy Jesse Eastham were socializing him at the sheriff’s office in Long Beach with two other deputies. Another employee arrived at the backdoor of the offices and startled Kreed, causing him to bark.

After the employee returned to work and turned her back to Kreed, she was barked at around a corner by the K9. Eastham reportedly yelled for Kreed to return to him and regained control of the situation.

The incident was reported in an official report by the supervisor and experienced K9 handler Sgt. Randy Wiegardt wrote, “K9 Kreed is still a young dog who has not yet been properly socialized. The incident is not indicative of a ‘bad dog,’ and K9 Kreed was merely acting on his genetic drive to chase and protect, which is a vestige of when dogs needed to hunt and survive.”

Wiegardt also addressed in the report which actions need to be taken moving forward, stating, “due to his age and kennel life, he has limited life experience. He needs to be socialized more, but from now on until he is ready, he will remain on a leash when socializing with deputies.”

The incident report also stated that Wiegardt scheduled training with Eastham to assist him with more handling experience to better control Kreed. Public records requests did not discover any documented additional training provided to Eastham to modify Kreed’s behavior.

Calls and emails to the sheriff’s office for clarification were not returned.

Unfortunate incident

The final incident that led to Kreed’s departure was on July 28, while the K9 was in the north county sheriff’s office with Eastham while he completed routine paperwork.

According to an incident report, a sheriff’s office employee walked by Eastham and Kreed, who was leashed to him and accidentally stepped on K9, who responded by biting her on the back of the leg.

The report only noted that the reason for the incident was “lack of being issued proper equipment” and was signed and dated by Eastham and no supervisor.

Additional calls for clarification on the incident and report have also not been returned.

Sheriff Robin Souvenir only stated via email that Kreed was returned to the trainer he was purchased from due to being “startled easily” and offered no further explanation.

Additional incident, issues

Records also showed that Kreed had an additional incident on an unspecified date where he barked and growled at a custodian. Undersheriff Ron Davis handled the incident, but public records did not include the report or if one was filed.

Eastham wrote, “this was another behavior incident that could have been avoided if I had the proper equipment which I again brought up to the sgts and they responded by saying ‘the admin are well aware and they don’t know what the issue is.’”

While attending a training event held by the Washington State Patrol on May 15, Eastham was informed his patrol vehicle was not correctly set up for a K9 and was advised he needed a fan and new bars placed on the vehicle for Kreed and the public’s safety.

“I again advised the sgts, but still nothing was done,” Deputy Eastham wrote about what he was advised at the WSP training.

Tough decision

In an email dated Aug. 5, to all other law enforcement agencies in Pacific County, Eastham wrote, “after a long discussion with the PCSO administration and based on all the information at hand; I am very sorry to report that K9 Kreed will not be reporting back to work.”

Eastham continued, “due to an unfortunate incident, Kreed has been forced into early and permanent retirement. This decision was not made easily but had to be made. I am beyond sorry for letting you all down and delaying the progress we are making within the drug community. There are no solid answers of when PCSO will be getting another narcotics detection K9, but I know it is in the works, so please be patient, and we will get back at it as soon as we can.”

Before his abrupt retirement, Kreed had approximately 50 successful searches and removed thousands of dollars of drugs off Pacific County streets in the space of five months. For example, in May Kreed helped locate methamphetamine and nearly a pound of heroin during an investigation in South Bend.

Kreed was acquired by the sheriff’s office thanks to a donation from a peninsula resident.

Ciko, another law enforcement K9 trained for other functions, remains in service with the sheriff’s office and aided in an arrest in Surfside last week. See story on page A2.

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