DOGS ON DUTY Wyoming Canine Unit celebrates 25 years of protecting and serving Story and photos by JENNIFER WATERS
Dutch’s first day on the job is the stuff of legend. Just one day after completing training and certification to be a Wyoming Police Department K9, the 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd was in the first minutes of his first patrol with his handler, Officer Eric Toonstra, when they got a call to assist the U.S. Marshals. The deputies had tracked a fugitive to a house but needed help locating him inside. Everyone thought the fugitive was in the home’s crawl space, but Dutch had different ideas. (Above) Wyoming Police Department’s Canine Unit. From left to right: Officer Eric Toonstra and K9 Dutch; Officer Randy Adams and K9 Mojy; Officer Robert Aungst and trainee Kilo; Officer Bob Robinson and K9 Arras.
“I put Dutch in there and he just turned around,” Toonstra said. “He wasn’t going in there. I put him in there a few more times and he just turned around, walked back out.” Officer Randy Adams, a 20year veteran of the Wyoming Police Department’s Canine Unit, was with Toonstra and Dutch to assist on their first day together. He knew Dutch was on to something. “Randy said, ‘Send him in the furnace room.’ I put (Dutch) in the furnace room, and he went straight to a bank of shelves and just started pulling stuff off the shelves,” Toonstra said. The area was so small, even Toonstra didn’t believe a man could be hiding there. But Dutch insisted, pulling things away until the fugitive’s arm was in sight. “I yelled, ‘Show me your hands!’
Dutch grabbed on and pulled him out,” Toonstra said. “That was pretty awesome.” A short time later on the same shift, Dutch and Toonstra were called out on an armed robbery. Toonstra located the suspect and followed him to an apartment complex. “I learned really early on to yell, ‘Stop or I’ll send the dog!’ Everybody stops because no one wants to get bit by a dog,” Toonstra said. As the armed robbery suspect was about to take off, Toonstra yelled just that. The suspect saw Dutch and flattened out. The suspect, on parole for a previous armed robbery, was handcuffed and arrested, the stolen money in his pocket. “So that was day one,” Toonstra said, laughing. “Day two was a little slower than that.”
November/December 2013 Dogs Unleashed 25
A lifestyle magazine for dog lovers