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Deputy Sheriff Randall Mathews always wanted to be a K-9 officer, but funding is not available for such a resource in Benton County. So, Deputy Mathews bought, trained and outfitted a two-year-old Czechoslovakian German Shepherd, named Brix, to be his K-9 partner. Brix replaces a former K-9 dog used by the Sheriff’s Office, which accompanied his owner to a new position out of the county.
Brix has been out on search and rescues, criminal tracks and narcotics assignments 37 times, as of early September, and many of those times were during off-duty hours. Several law enforcement groups participated in the search for a missing six-year old Fristoe boy, during an early August tornado, but it was Brix who located the area where the child was found 45 minutes after he began the hunt. By that time, the child had been missing five hours. He more recently located an unconscious adult in the woods and led deputies to a location where a fleeing suspect had left a stolen car. These efforts have led to 26 arrests.
“A K-9 unit is needed here,” said Deputy Mathews. “It would take a lot of manpower to cover the area that Brix covers, and he can track in areas that are not visible for law enforcement personnel in cars or helicopters.”
Deputy Mathews said that when Brix tracks down a suspect in a crime, “the dog arrests the person and I do the paperwork. He is my partner who backs me up everywhere I go, and his growl can be very intimidating when someone gets too close. He is protective of me and is a part of my family, but is strictly a working dog when we are on duty.”
Brix is a commissioned police dog, wearing badge number 299 around his neck. He and Deputy Mathews went through 200 hours of training in search and rescue, narcotics and tracking before being allowed to work in law enforcement together. They are required to document at least 20 hours of continued training each month during off-duty hours, and at Deputy Mathews’ expense.
It costs Deputy Mathews about $400 a month to maintain Brix. The dog does not qualify for federal grants because he is not the property of the Sheriff’s office. He eats 50 pounds of food each month, has medical bills and uses expensive equipment such as a ballistic vest and harness. The deputy pays for the dog’s gear himself. He needs good quality tools that will make sure that he and Brix come home safely. Deputy Mathews has already spent $7,000 on the dog and recently began fund-raising visits around the county to try and get gear, food or money to help defray some of his expenses.
Deputy Mathews was a military police officer during six years of service in the U. S. Army. He served two years as an officer in a boot camp facility in Illinois before being hired as a Benton County Deputy Sheriff in February 2008. His decision to buy Brix, whose real name is Bronko vom Kloakenwasser, was endorsed by his family which treats the dog as a pet when he is not on duty.
“We are all a family,” said Mrs. Mathews. “He protects us and I feel safe with him.”
Brix was purchased at Ackerland Kennels and Training Center in Lebanon, Missouri, and has been taken there for medical checkups, including $800 worth of treatment when he was injured in a fall in the line of duty. Donations to help defray some of the costs associated with this important law enforcement resource may be sent to: Drug Dog Fund, P.O. Box 2021, Warsaw, MO, 65355 or to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.