By Liz Verley
Dan Rocheleau has been with the Morrison County Sheriff’s Department for 12 years. Besides his regular duties as a deputy, for the past seven years he has been a K-9 handler, working with his dog Brix who was a patrol and drug dog.
Brix was a full-blooded German shepherd imported from the Czech Republic.
Recently Brix was diagnosed with having a cancerous tumor on his spleen and was euthanized.
“That was really a rough day when we got that news. He had become such a part of our family. It is hard to believe how smart these dogs are. The kids could play and roughhouse with him and he was so gentle. But, the minute he saw the squad car he was all business,” Rocheleau said.
Moving forward, Rocheleau is now working on a trial basis with Benny, another German shepherd from the Czech Republic.
“Right now I am in the early stages of training him. I need to know that we can bond and that he will bond with my family. That is a crucial item between the handler and his dog,” he said. “The dog must also have a good nose for tracking; lots of energy; good health, especially good hips and back; and a never-ending drive to keep going. Playing catch is an important part of their training.”
At the present time there is nothing in the Morrison County Sheriff’s Department budget to pay for K-9s or their training.
Rocheleau said the dogs cost $6,000 each, and another $4,000 for the training. Then there also is the equipment costs such as the control leash, harness, vest, the squad car must be kennel-equipped and then there is the food.
A deputy who handles a K-9 is given a stipend of $250 quarterly which is to help cover the costs of food and veterinary expenses.
The Pierz Fire Relief Association has donated $3,000 toward the purchase and training of a new dog for Rocheleau. While the Sheriff’s Department can not actively ask for or seek donations, any organization or person may make a donation toward the cost.
Rocheleau is more than willing to take time to visit with any organization or group to discuss and explain the benefits of the K-9 program. He can be reached at (320) 630-6340.
Intentions are to add a second dog pending funding. At the present time it has not been decided who would become the additional handler.
“The dogs are a very good asset to the Sheriff’s Department and the community. They are a great deterrents especially in a bar fight or similar situation. In many cases, just their presence can prevent a problem before it starts,” Rocheleau said.
Anyone wishing to make a donation may make them to Morrison County care of the Canine Program.