BEATRICE – Pending training of another handler, it appears “Buster”, a Belgian Malinois, may return to drug detection duty with the Gage County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Millard Gustafson said the K-9 initially put up for sale by the county, but then retained, has tested out well despite being out of action for some time.

Gustafson said Wednesday, "A week ago today, I took Buster up to Omaha and had him evaluated.  They were pleasantly surprised that he did very well, for being out of the game for several weeks."

The county’s K-9 had been kenneled, since his former handler took a new job with the Washington County, Nebraska Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Gustafson says another deputy, Dax Brydl, has expressed interest in being the dog’s new handler, focusing on drug detection.

“Buster” is four years old and has about four more years of service.  Gustafson says the handler’s training and the K-9 program will impact the sheriff’s budget.

Private donations, including some sizable gifts supported starting the K-9 program in the sheriff’s department.   Gustafson says he plans to contact past donors once the resumption of the K-9 program happens. 

Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann said a trainer evaluation showed Buster had a very good disposition and obedience with drug search.  "This may be as good an outcome as we could hope for.  It's going to be rough no matter what.....people were really upset....but, we're hoping to come to as good an outcome as possible.   This may be that", Tiemann said.

Gustafson says it was hoped that the deputy serving as a new handler could apply and be accepted into a training program in August.