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Donations help Wyoming sheriff’s office acquire 2 new K-9s

August 29, 2021 GMT
Torc, a Dutch Shepard seen here in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, was one of two police dogs recently added to the Campbell County, Wyoming, sheriff's department with help from community donations. (Ashley Detrick/Gillette News Record via AP)
Torc, a Dutch Shepard seen here in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, was one of two police dogs recently added to the Campbell County, Wyoming, sheriff's department with help from community donations. (Ashley Detrick/Gillette News Record via AP)
Torc, a Dutch Shepard seen here in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, was one of two police dogs recently added to the Campbell County, Wyoming, sheriff's department with help from community donations. (Ashley Detrick/Gillette News Record via AP)
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Torc, a Dutch Shepard seen here in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, was one of two police dogs recently added to the Campbell County, Wyoming, sheriff's department with help from community donations. (Ashley Detrick/Gillette News Record via AP)
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Torc, a Dutch Shepard seen here in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, was one of two police dogs recently added to the Campbell County, Wyoming, sheriff's department with help from community donations. (Ashley Detrick/Gillette News Record via AP)

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Before they were together on the streets, they were together in a barn.

Temporarily living in a two-bedroom barn loft in Alabama, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputies Trevor Osborn and Kyle Rhoades had the time to get close to Torc and Borys, their new K-9s-in-training that shared those same close quarters with them earlier this year.

It was there, down South, that the K-9 handling veteran, Osborn, and the newly selected handler in training, Rhoades, met their new partners.

And they have the community they serve and protect to thank, the Gillette News Record reports.

The international dogs — Borys, a Belgian Malinois hailing from Poland and Torc, a Dutch Shepherd — were paid for with donations from various businesses and individuals in the community.

Although the age of Torc is up for debate, the allegedly 20-month-old dog is clearly the more playful, and seemingly younger, of the two.

While Osborn recounted the story of how the Sheriff’s Office rounded up the $35,500 needed to pay for the two pups plus their training, Torc jumped up on his lap and ferociously scratched at his own head throughout. Borys sat calmly besides Rhoades, arms stretched out in front like the statue of an Anubis.

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“There’s some speculation that maybe his passport isn’t accurate,” Osborn said of Torc. “They’re supposed to be the same age.”

Two out of three missing

Those European dogs’ journey to Gillette began in late 2020, when an unexpected series of events led to the Sheriff’s Office being down two of its three dogs, and in search of a new K-9 handler.

First, a longtime K-9 handler with the department, Cpl. Gary Spears retired, leaving the department down one dog.

Then Osborn’s previous dog, Max, whom he had for seven years, was diagnosed with lymphoma in December. Right away, his longtime partner was given a short time to live.

Max died in March, while Osborn was away in Alabama training.

“It was the most horrendous thing you could think of happening (that) happened to him,” Osborn said. “It sucked I couldn’t be here for him.”

Police dogs and their required training are not cheap. One dog plus training could run in the neighborhood of $18,000, Osborn said. Multiply that by two, and the Sheriff’s Office was looking at close to the cost of a salary.

The timing could hardly have been worse, with the department already clamping down on its budget.

“The purse strings kind of got tight,” Osborn said.

So with permission from administrators, he and Rhoades got the OK to reach out to the public for help raise money for their prospective pups.

Surprising support

Working the streets, deputies encounter surprises nearly every day. That element of the unexpected becomes routine, nearly every shift. But when they went to the people they serve asking for help, they received a different kind of surprise than they were used to.

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It did not take long for community members to open their pocket books.

The local businesses of TORC Energy Service, Cyclone Drilling, Sweetgrass Steiner Ranch, Contractors Supply, Clemetson Land and Livestock, Joe’s Plumbing and Heating, First National Bank along with some of its employees, Sons of American Legion, Life Connections, Devon Energy and Navajo Transitional Energy all pitched in for the cause.

Besides those local businesses, Tanya Necklason along with Michael and Mary Kindt wrote checks as well.

“All these people came through in spades,” Osborn said.

He said it only took about two weeks to gather all of the money needed.

“These are all members of our community that stepped up at a hard time to step up ... during a downturn in our industries, all of them,” Osborn said. “I can’t say enough about it.”

Now it’s common for the car ahead of him in line at Starbuck’s to pay for his coffee, or for him to have an older woman step up and pay for his lunch while checking out at Albertsons.

“Law enforcement isn’t necessarily a popular thing right now, but locally, I have never seen more support for being a cop, in 19 years, than I have probably in the last year,” Osborn said.

Rhoades echoed that sentiment.

“I just can’t say enough about our community and how supportive of us (they are) ... compared to other places, even in Wyoming, we’re treated so well in the community,” Rhoades said. “People really do appreciate us and we appreciate them.”

Osborn and Rhoades speak a kind of Dutch-German-gibberish hybrid language to Borys and Torc. The words — whatever language they actually are — are less important than their meaning, which each dog has successfully been trained to learn.

Torc has only been on the street since June 24, but in that time “he’s just gotten a lot of use,” Osborn said. In his early months as a K-9 handler himself, Rhoades and Borys have gotten the ropes, too.

What began as an ill-timed sequence of events ended up with the Sheriff’s Office gaining a new K-9 force of the future. All thanks to a little help from the people they typically help.

“That’s our story, it was a horrendous turn of events that turned out really well,” Osborn said. “It gives you a lot of gratitude for where you live ... that’s one of the best things with these animals, they’re a bridge.

“Everyone loves dogs.”