Foothill kids can name police dog

Schoolchildren have until Friday to suggest a name for the dog about to join the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department.

The winner of the contest, open to kindergartners through sixth-graders in the county, will get a $100 gift card from Wal-Mart.

The K-9 is a Belgian shepherd dog, or Malinois, that is expected to arrive next month from an Arkansas training center, Sheriff Jim Mele said Wednesday.

The dog, the department's first since the mid-1990s, will help with drug detection, arrests and other tasks, he said.

The cost is being covered by the Tuolumne County Deputy Sheriff's Association and donations from the public.

Hundreds of suggestions have come in so far, including Hero, Blade, Montana, Hunter, Apollo, Sgt. Spy, Gunner, Justice, Leo and Snoopy.

Mele and a member of the deputy group will choose the winner, who will be announced Saturday.

Entries can be dropped off at the department, 28 N. Lower Sunset Drive, Sonora.