Victoria County Sheriff's Office K-9 dies after five years of service

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Sept. 18, 2013 at 4:18 a.m.
Updated Sept. 19, 2013 at 4:19 a.m.

It was during a routine traffic stop that Cpl. Craig Kirkpatrick realized the true value of his partner.

There was something off about the family they pulled over, and Kirkpatrick said he sensed deception after interviewing them. He asked to search the vehicle, but the family said no.

Luckily, his partner had a keen sense of smell, and they ended up pulling more than 20 assault rifles, bulletproof vests and an assortment of high-capacity magazines from the van heading south.

"He was able to take that off the street," Kirkpatrick said about his service dog Rocky, who died Monday of complications from a degenerative medical condition. Rocky was 9 years old.

"Those weapons were headed for the streets," Kirkpatrick said. "Rocky saved the day on that stop."

Rocky was a dual-purpose K-9 that joined the Victoria County Sheriff's Office in 2008. Dual purpose dogs are used for narcotics detection, tracking, suspect apprehension and officer protection.

During the five years Rocky worked with Kirkpatrick in interdiction, he helped seize more than $7 million of drugs from the streets of Victoria and was recognized by the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association for excellence.

"He wanted to work all the time," Kirkpatrick continued, saying the dog had a high drive for service. "If I didn't take him into work and he heard my patrol car start, he would just bark and bark."

About two years ago, Rocky developed a bone condition called spondylosis, which his doctor Mark Besancon, from Crossroads Veterinary Clinic in Victoria, said is like having arthritis of the spine.

"It can be very painful," Besancon said about the condition that eventually paralyzed Rocky after a herniated disk shifted into the dog's spinal column.

Last week, during training, Rocky just stopped walking.

"It just came to the point that he was so far gone," Kirkpatrick said. "It hasn't quite sunk in. I look back in my patrol car, and I expect Rocky to be there, and he isn't. It's hard."

While the dog specifically worked with Kirkpatrick, he also left his mark on many deputies at the department, including the sheriff and was considered one of the family.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said he'll never forget the first time he met Rocky. "He was a little too attentive, if you know what I mean," he said. "I felt like he was looking at me the whole time."

O'Connor said he had a grand scheme to make Rocky a little less intimidating and wanted to place a recorded message of his voice saying "good boy" inside the dog's cage.

"Let's just say we had an understanding," he said. "I didn't mess with him, and he didn't mess with me."

Rocky will be cremated this week, and his remains will be placed in a memorial in front of the sheriff's office. Kirkpatrick said he expects the service to be in early October.

"Rocky was not only a loyal partner and officer, but he was also able to deter many types of criminals while remaining a trusted and loved member of my family," he said. "He will be sorely missed and never forgotten. There will never be another Rocky."



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