Home » Posts tagged 'roycroft'
Tag Archives: roycroft
To the uninitiated it sounds like chaos — guttural growls and warning barks from 35 assorted dogs and the occasional human voice that silences them.
In a nearby field, Arec, a Dutch shepherd puppy, ignores them all.
It couldn’t matter less to him that nearly three dozen other police dogs and their handlers are training. His eyes are focused on Quincy K-9 Officer Scott Smith, who, with one hand gesture, gets the 15-week-old puppy to sit. Another hand gesture combined with body movement, and Arec goes flat on the ground.
And that’s not all. Arec, who will soon be coming to work for the Barnstable Police Department, has already started tracking. Sure, it’s only for 60 or 70 feet, and true, he’s tracking the food that Smith uses for training. But as Barnstable K-9 Officer Sean Roycroft watches Arec, a light comes into his eyes and a small smile begins to form at the corners of his mouth.
Arec will soon be coming home with Roycroft to begin a career with Barnstable. But this little pup has some very big paw prints to fill.
Only a few weeks ago, Roycroft lost his K-9 partner, Cole, to cancer. The 10-year-old German shepherd, who spent all of his nine-year working life in Roycroft’s company — did it all. He found lost elderly people, tracked a man who tried to rape a young girl in her own bedroom, and sank his teeth into more than a few optimists who believed they could outrun a police dog.
“I was just the guy at the end of the lead,” Roycroft said. “From the first time he jumped into the back of a cruiser to the last time he jumped out, Cole wanted to work.”
Although Roycroft doesn’t say so, other K-9 officers will say it for him.
“Cole was one of the most incredible dogs, a real hero,” said Lt. Barney Murphy, second in command of the Barnstable Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit. “He worked up to two days before he died and never slowed down.”
Cole’s illness and death have prompted Roycroft and the two other Barnstable K-9 officers to form a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization aimed at paying for medical treatment of the department’s dogs.
The Barnstable Police K-9 Fund is the first of its kind on the Cape and Islands, but it is not the first in the state.
The Braintree police organized the Working Dog Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit, for similar reasons.
Barnstable’s K-9 officers — Roycroft, Jeffrey Jackson and Troy Perry — will make the initial donations to the fund and schedule fundraisers.
The cost of maintaining a police dog runs about $500 to $600 a year, but treatment for injury or illness can run into the thousands.
At the training session last week in Duxbury where Arec strutted his stuff the subject was on the minds of officers from many departments.
None of them wants to see an injury or illness force a department to euthanize a dog rather than pay for expensive medical treatment.
“There is so much strain on police departments these days. Budgets have been cut and no one sees it improving in the future,” Roycroft said.
“We don’t want to see a choice have to be made between medical treatment for one of our dogs and budgets.”
There is a retirement fund for police dogs — the Cape Cod Police K-9 Relief Fund (online at capecodpolicek9.org/index.html) — that helps handlers take care of retired dogs, which generally become part of the handler’s family. Once a dog’s career is over, no public money is available to keep the dog.
Roycroft and fellow K-9 officers don’t want to see working dogs become victims of budget cutbacks.
In the meantime, Arec is a long way from retirement. Given his recent growth spurt and rambunctious personality, he appears to be in the best of health.
Arec is from a first litter of nine puppies whelped at the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department as part of a new breeding and training program under the direction of Kenneth Ballinger.
Once the puppies were old enough, Ballinger, a second-generation breeder and trainer, farmed them out to foster families like that of Quincy K-9 Officer Smith, who will soon turn Arec’s training over to Roycroft.
It will probably be another eight months before Arec is a full-fledged departmental K-9, but it is only a matter of weeks before he starts riding around the patrol car with Roycroft.
“I’m looking forward to that,” Roycroft said with a smile. “It will be nice to have a partner in the car again.”
By Karen Jeffrey