Man outraged by damage done by border agents

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A Wasilla man contends U.S. border agents are responsible for thousands of dollars of damage done to his trailer and a disassembled log home after he was stopped for a search at the Alaska-Canada border.

''They act like I don't know how to say it like heathens,'' Waymon Price said.

U.S. Customs officials said the Aug. 19 incident occurred when a drug-sniffing German shepherd got a whiff of marijuana.

On that day, Price hauled half of a disassembled custom log home to the Alaska border from Vancouver, British Columbia. Price, 45, and his fiance, Vicki Miller, 54, planned to assemble the log home in the Butte, south of Palmer, before winter.

Miller and Price's rat terrier, Mouse, were traveling the Alaska Highway with him. At the border, a U.S. Department of Defense agent with the German shepherd inspected the tractor and 53-foot trailer. The agent apparently didn't know there was a dog in the cab of the rig, and when he opened the door, Mouse bit the German shepherd.

The Defense Department agent told Price what had happened.

''Good,'' Price responded.

Price said he was thinking about his 14-pound terrier, which has been mauled three times by bigger dogs, rather than how his response would sound to the agent.

The Defense Department agent ''just come uncorked,'' Price told the Anchorage Daily News. ''Fuming uncorked.''

Price said customs agents started tearing through the cab of the tractor-trailer. Customs agents also emptied some items out of the trailer, Price said. After three hours, agents said that they were going to take the trailer to Anchorage for further inspection, Price said.

Ed Sale, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Portland, Ore., said he did not know how long Price was held at the border. The dogfight had nothing to do with why the trailer was seized, he said.

Sale said the German shepherd ''had a hit'' for drugs in the cab of Price's rig and on the outside of his trailer. In the cab, agents found a pipe that field-tested positive for trace amounts of marijuana, Sale said. The trailer was too tightly packed to inspect very far, so it was transported to Anchorage, he said.

Price said Miller found the pipe at a rest stop outside Beaver Creek. Sale said the pipe was destroyed on site.

In Anchorage, another drug dog was taken around the outside of the trailer, Sale said. That dog signaled for drugs at the same spot the German shepherd did, he said. Inside the truck, officials found a small amount of a green substance, which tested negative, Sale said.

No charges were filed.

On Monday, customs officials returned Price's belongings to his property. Sale said he didn't know anything about the condition of Price's belongings. If there is damage, Sale said, Price is welcome to file a claim.

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