Officers, others mourn loss of Converse County K-9 deputy | Wyoming

DOUGLAS – As the clock ticked past 11 a.m. on Thursday, December 2, the heartbreaking latest End Of Watch law enforcement call echoed from a dispatch vehicle in a small parking lot in Douglas.

About 50 law enforcement officers, first responders, a few family members and medical clinic staff remained silent as a single flag-covered coffin rolled out of the clinic, carried by three deputies and a Sheriff’s investigator in the back of a bright red van before the motorcade out of town en route to Casper.

It was the solemn start of a traditional escort for a deceased sheriff’s officer who had served Converse County faithfully and honorably for more than seven years.

More than 20 vehicles – most from the Converse County Sheriff’s Office, other law enforcement and first responders – lined up one by one with their flashing red, white and blue lights, and chased the escort on Fourth Street to Center Street, over the Bryan Gross Memorial Bridge and on I-25 to Glenrock, ending the procession at the county line as Trigger was taken to Casper.

However, this deputy was different from those who bravely held back tears and said goodbye to their fellow officer.

This deputy possessed superhuman loyalty, a fun loving heart and worked for free. He was the Deputy Trigger of K-9, a 9 year old Belgian Malinois who won the respect and affection of everyone who met, worked with and cared for him.

The Converse County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Douglas Police Department have seen a dramatic increase in the trafficking and sale of illegal narcotics in the county and state of Wyoming. In order to meet the challenges of uncovering hidden drugs and those involved, it would require a special tactic – a secret weapon, of sorts.

This is where Trigger came in. The community responded to Sheriff Clint Becker’s request for a service dog, and the search has begun.

In a short time, a fund was established, a curriculum developed, and appropriate preparations, testing and training were applied.

CCSO contacted Vigilant Canine Services International, LLC in Red Bluff, Calif., For assistance.

Trigger’s fate of becoming a law enforcement recruit stems from specific lineages with a proven propensity to serve. VCSI, through its international breeding centers, provides world-class dog and canine services for point of entry control, explosives detection, narcotics detection, patrol and detection of human remains.

Cpl. Mark Dexter had just been approved to serve as a dog handler through extensive testing to be compared to a drug detector dog. Dexter was sent to California to begin the process. He immediately teamed up with a good dog, but somehow the connection was missing something and the dog had not been certified after two weeks.

Then Dexter was successfully paired with another, and this dog was certified in two days under Dexter’s hand.

Trigger returned to Douglas with Dexter in May 2014, but he needed a name.

CCSO invited elementary school children across the county to choose a name for him. Thus, “Trigger” quickly became Douglas’ best known and favorite dog.

Specially trained in drug detection, Trigger took his job seriously and did it well. He is credited with locating between half a million to a million dollars in narcotics per year.

Along with drug detection, a large number of stolen firearms have been recovered and in most cases offenders linked to these crimes have been apprehended, said Dexter and Becker.

But Trigger had more than a stellar work ethic beyond his specialty.

It has become a source of comfort for nervous and anxious children involved in domestic crises, Dexter explained. Feeling scared and vulnerable, they were drawn to Trigger and sat down with him, stroking him and clinging to him. Trigger was a warm and welcoming comfort to them. The trigger was also an intimidating presence that often defused turbulent and potentially dangerous situations.

The beautiful dog also became a teacher, visiting schools with his master to educate children about narcotics and what his job involved.

Dexter and Trigger were together constantly, 24/7 for seven years. The dog came home with Dexter after each shift and was a joy and a blessing for the whole Dexter family, according to Tanisha Dexter. He accompanied them everywhere, protected and supervised the children and played with his favorite toys.

“He was just a kind little soul,” said Mark Dexter.

We say that it takes a village to raise a child, but we can also say that it takes a community to support a K-9 deputy. Douglas did, with ongoing contributions and service to support the local hero and celebrity, they said.

Douglas Feed owner Tammy Larsen provided Trigger’s food, allowing him to choose his own.

Rhonda Covington, owner of The Laundromutt Mobile Pet Grooming, provided regular grooming.

Trigger enthusiastically accepted all the attention, but, when it came time to work, he was completely focused, unfazed, and indomitable.

Dean Smylie, DVM of Advanced Animal Care, said Trigger was a facility favorite with all the staff, noting the dog’s remarkable intelligence and personality. When Trigger arrived earlier this year, there were a few anomalies in his exam.

Determining the final diagnosis was difficult, but reporting the results to Dexter was worse. X-rays and other tests showed rapidly growing cancer that eventually concentrated in Trigger’s lungs.

After the service, Kim Smylie summed up the loss this way: “Trigger wasn’t just a hero, he became a kind of mascot for Douglas; an ambassador. We were proud to be his health care provider. We are all just devastated. It is a great loss for the whole community. He was quite special.

“He was still working on the days he was feeling well until three or four weeks ago,” Dexter said. “Then I had to leave him at home. It was hard to go to work without him – hard on both of us – and Trigger hadn’t “given up” in him. He was an amazing friend. We depended on each other, we supported each other.

Trigger died of lung cancer on the night of December 1.

The next morning, Trigger’s family and colleagues solemnly came to say goodbye to Advanced Animal Care, where staff had laid a wreath and photos in his honor. His remains were escorted to a cremation center.

Becker said the future will most likely hold another service dog for the CCSO, but there won’t be any other trigger.

“He was great and there is a big hole in our ranks today. It’s going to be tough without him, ”the sheriff said.

Dexter spoke thoughtfully about life without his best friend, protector and work partner.

He and his family expressed their immense appreciation for the incredible support received throughout Trigger’s life and since his passing.

“I don’t know if I’ll keep (his leftovers) at home or bring him to the office. I haven’t decided yet, but I need a little time. It just won’t be the same without him, ”Dexter said.

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