updated 8/1/2006 3:27:11 PM ET 2006-08-01T19:27:11

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County sheriff's office accepted a $5,000 donation Tuesday that will be used to purchase a new police dog.

The donation from grocery store Smith's Food and Drug and from the Milk-Bone pet-snack company will allow the department to buy Sam, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Sam is being trained to be a patrol and narcotics dog, said Sgt. Steve Rowland with the sheriff's K-9 unit.

When Sam is ready he'll take over for 9-year-old Bruno, also a Belgian Malinois that has been working with the sheriff's office for seven years, Rowland said.

There are about seven dogs working with sheriff's officers to catch suspects on the run, sniff out drugs or bombs and help locate evidence, he said.

This is the sixth dog that has been purchased by Utah law enforcement through the partnership between Milk-Bone and Smith's.

The Milk-Bone Canine Heroes Program has donated more than 500 police and service dogs nationwide since 1997.

Rowland said the value of dogs is in many ways immeasurable.

"They mean so much to us as handlers. They go home with us and we bond with them," he said. "They're just an integral part of this unit.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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