The Pine County K-9 team of Deputy Aaron Borchardt and his partner Chaos are up for a unique opportunity. They have been selected as finalists to win a brand new Chevrolet Tahoe squad car. There are 28 other departments throughout the country that are competing for this honor.
The Pine County Sheriff’s Office currently has two K-9 officers, Chaos and Chewy. In 2018 both dogs received donations of bullet and stab proof vests from a non-profit organization called Vested Interest in K9s (VIK9s). This same organization is sponsoring the SUV contest.
VIK9s was started in 2009 by Sandy Marcal and in the past 10 years they have been able to donate over 3,500 K9 ballistic vests, as well as K9 opioid reversal NARCAN Kits, K-9 medical insurance premiums, first aid kits and last year they were able to give away a Chevy Tahoe custom fitted for a K9 Unit valued at over $50,000. This is the prize that Borchardt and Chaos have their eyes on. According to Borchardt, the Tahoe would provide much needed space they do not have with their current K-9 squads.
To be considered for a spot in the finals, said Marcal, each team had to meet certain requirements. One of these requirements is that they had to have received a vest donation from VIK9s. Others included: the vehicle that would be replaced by the Tahoe has to have at least 60,000 miles on it, the dog has to be between two and five years of age and the department must have a financial commitment to continue the K-9 program for at least three more years.
Throughout the month of October, community members can vote once a day, every day for their team. The team with the most votes, hopefully Deputy Borchardt and Chaos, will win the Tahoe. To vote go to VIK9s.org and click on the “Cast your Vote” link at the top of the page.
“Please vote every day! Every vote counts,” said Borchardt.
According to Marcal, the contest is possible only through the generosity of donors around the country. Although she couldn’t disclose how many votes have been cast in this year’s contest so far, she did say during the 2018 contest, there were 159,000 votes cast with the winner earning approximately 39,000 votes.
Chaos is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois who was born in the Czech Republic. Deputy Borchardt got Chaos in January of 2017 and in March began the 14 weeks of training. They have been working the road together ever since.
Chaos is a dual purpose K-9, meaning he is an apprehension dog but is also trained in building searches, tracking and narcotic detection. He is trained to detect marijuana, heroin, hashish, cocaine and methamphetamine, although since some other drugs have the same chemicals he will also respond to those as well.
The Malinois breed typically has a higher drive than a German Shepherd. Though their breed is smaller they have a great work ethic. Borchardt explained the breed is not usually used for public relations but he explained, “I lucked out because he (Chaos) is extremely friendly.” As a team they visit school, businesses and attend community events.
Chaos has a reputation that precedes him. Borchardt said 99% of suspects will surrender before Chaos is even released. “Sometimes you can just threaten them with the K-9 and they will give up.” He gave the example of a traffic stop when the suspect knew they were going to find drugs. As Borchardt was searching the vehicle he noticed the suspect looking for a way to run. “I told him that if he ran, I wasn’t going to chase him...I was just going to release the dog,” said Borchardt. The suspect immediately changed his mind and stayed put.
Much of the funding for the K-9 program in Pine County comes from donations. The program was brought back to life in 2017 when donations were used to purchase Chaos and pay for his training.
Donations are still needed to help keep the program moving forward. For example, a much needed tool is an agility course for the dogs to train on. This training helps them to pass their annual certification for police dog trials. The Pine County Sheriff’s Office received donations that were used to purchase the materials to help build such a course, the STS (Sentenced to Serve) crew built the obstacles, but now they need to find a place to set up the course. Other things that donations could help pay for include bite suits for training in building situations, bite sleeves, collars and muzzles.
“These heroes need the support, they need it to protect their handlers and their communities,” said Marcal of the work VIK9s does.
Residents can help support Borchard and Chaos by going to their computer or phone and “paws to vote” for these Pine County K-9 officers, and help them protect the Pine County community.