Meet UOPD’s bomb-sniffing dog Onyx

The University of Oregon Police Department just welcomed its newest addition to the force — Onyx the dog.

The three-year-old black lab mix will be used as a bomb-sniffing dog at campus events and will also be used for community engagement. UOPD partnered with UO Intercollegiate Athletics, UO student government and federal law enforcement to train and deploy the dog.

For the past seven weeks, Onyx and his handler, Officer Troy Phillips, were completing the Law Dogs police canine training program at the Sacramento Police Department, according to AroundtheO.

Onyx is a bomb-detection dog and does not detect drugs, according to officer Phillips. He is trained to detect 52 different odors that will aid in finding explosives or explosive components.

Onyx is also able to track human scent. If a suspect dropped something at the scene they can use Onyx to track the suspect.

Community engagement is a major reason Onyx was brought to UO, according to officer Phillips. Onyx has been trained to engage with students under the command “make friends.” Students are encouraged to approach Onyx and pet him when he is out on campus.

Onyx was adopted from a shelter, which is cheaper than buying a dog, according to Officer Phillips. Typically, departments could spend as much as $10,000 to $20,000 for a dog and $10,000 to $20,000 for training.

Part of the funding for Onyx comes from the UO athletic department to have Onyx attend the events for safety purposes.

Officer Troy Phillips is Onyx’s handler. (Becca Robbins/Emerald)

Previously, UOPD used a federal dog that was significantly more expensive and was often gone on other assignments or in Washington D.C.

According to Phillips, Onyx is one of only two or three bomb dogs in the state of Oregon.

“Our goal is to change the way Oregon looks at these dogs. We want to make them a more common resource,” Phillips said.

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Hannah Kanik

Hannah Kanik

Hannah Kanik is a News Reporter. She is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Political Science and loves coffee and classic movies.