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Santa Cruz Co. appoints first female canine handler

Deputy Cassandra Cassingham and her partner, a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Duke.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office has appointed its first female canine handler, sheriff's officials said this week.

Deputy Cassandra Cassingham will serve on patrol with her partner, a 3-year-old German shepherd named Duke. Duke is certified in narcotics detection and locating and apprehending suspects.

The average service life of a patrol dog is five to seven years and they are usually partnered with the same deputy the entire time, sheriff's Sgt. Kelly Kent said.

"Our canine deputies perform a valuable service to the public and the Sheriff's Office and I am confident that Deputy Cassingham and Duke will be great partners and serve the community well," Sheriff-elect Jim Hart said in a statement.
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