Deputy Vance and K-9 Bear
Deputy Sheriff Keith “Trapper” Vance was Vernon County’s very first K-9 Handler. In 1995, Trapper started with K-9 Buddy, and in 1995, he partnered with K-9 Bear, both being black Labradors who were trained in the detection of narcotics. Trapper and K-9 Buddy had certifications from Castle K-9 in Pennsylvania, and K-9 Bear was certified by North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA). In 2003, Deputy Sheriff Keith “Trapper” Vance had K-9 Tina, also a black Labrador trained by NAPWDA in the detection of narcotics. Occasionally, Trapper would use K-9 Hondo, who was a bloodhound trained in tracking lost or missing persons. Deputy Sheriff Keith “Trapper” Vance was the handler for ALL and was with the sheriff’s office from December 1984 until March 2011, where he worked in the patrol division, as K-9 Handler, and the dispatch/jail divisions. Deputy Sheriff Keith “Trapper” Vance was also a Special Conservation Warden for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) from 1980 to 2003, where he worked alongside his friend and partner Warden Richard Wallin. Keith “Trapper” Vance died at the age of 65 on February 10th, 2018.
K-9 Apollo and Deputy Sheriff Mark Stebbins
K-9 Apollo was born October 18, 2002 as Soprano of My Bodyguard. Apollo’s sire (father) was a champion German shepherd show dog by the name of “Kodiak” DL858259/03 and the dam (mother) was a pure black German shepherd by the name of “Nina” of My Bodyguard. From the same litter, there were three dogs that were selected and served as police K-9s. Apollo was purchased on February 15, 2004 by the Sparta Police Department. I was sent to My Bodyguard Kennels in Union, Illinois to select a K-9 partner from several candidates.
I worked with and examined approximately 5 outstanding K-9s before K-9 Apollo (Soprano) was brought out to me. I was seated in a chair when they brought him in off-leash. The dog walked up to my chair and stared at me for a short time before putting his paws up on my chest and looked at me even closer. The dog then began licking my face and pinched my ear with his teeth. I worked the dog on basic obedience and protection work for a short time and quickly decided he and I were destined to be a team. I chose this dog and brought him home that day.
I began training with K-9 Apollo at the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in late February of 2004. I attended training 40 hours per week until June 2004 when Apollo and I graduated from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s K-9 Academy in basic patrol operations trained in accordance with the United States Police Canine Association. Apollo and I were trained in Basic Obedience, Agility, Handler Protection, Tracking, Evidence Recovery, Building Search, Criminal Apprehension, Tactical Obedience, and other patrol-related trainings. In December of 2004, Apollo and I went back to Ramsey County for Narcotics training until we graduated in March 2005.
K-9 Apollo and I were partnered on a night shift for the City of Sparta. In his time of service with the Sparta Police Department, Apollo made numerous drug arrests, several criminal apprehensions, missing person tracks, criminal tracks, evidence recovery, and building searches. Apollo was given letters of commendation for his service and quickly gained the respect of his co-workers.
K-9 Apollo and I left the Sparta Police Department in 2005 and joined the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office in a part-time capacity. Apollo began service for the sheriff’s office in September of 2006. During the time of service with Vernon County, Apollo made countless drug arrests, many criminal tracks, several missing person tracks, many school searches, and was a vital tool for public relations. Apollo loved to display his abilities for anyone whowas willing to watch and would often impress younger children when he would run to his squad car, open his own door, get into his squad car, and wait for me to give him a command. Apollo was well known and well-liked within the department and the community.
K-9 Apollo and Deputy Stebbins left the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office in December of 2009. Apollo and Officer Stebbins stayed in the Vernon County area where they worked part-time for the City of Hillsboro. Apollo died on February 2, 2013.
K-9 Larz and Deputy Sheriff Brian James
K-9 Larz was a German shepherd who was born in May of 2010 in Chile. He was imported to the U.S in March of 2011 to begin his career as a police working dog. The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office purchased Larz from his owner in November of 2011 to start his training. Larz was a dual-purpose trained K-9, which means he was trained in narcotics detection and patrol operations. Larz was very sociable and enjoyed playing fetch to burn off his energy. Deputy Sheriff Brian James was his handler, who was with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office from August 2011 until August 2015. Larz and Brian James continued their police work with the Sparta Police Department until June 2020 when Larz retired.
K-9 Larz passed away on June 20, 2021 after a short but devastating illness.
K-9 Myk and Deputy Sheriff Adam Malin
My name is Deputy Sheriff Adam Malin and my K-9 partner is Myk. I grew up on a dairy farm near Genoa, WI, and I attended De Soto High School. I enrolled in college at Western Technical College and studied in the Fire Fighting Program at WTC.
After a few years, I decided to do something different and went into law enforcement. I have worked for the Cashton Police Department, Westby Police Department, and the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office part-time before being hired full-time by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.
K-9 Myk was a German shepherd sable, who was born on April 26, 2010. Myk started training at 6 weeks old in Germany before being imported to the U.S. in April of 2012. Myk was trained as a dual-purpose K-9 certified in patrol work including narcotics, tracking/searching, obedience, and apprehension. Myk was able to locate drugs (marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine), find lost children, or protect me if needed while out on patrol. Myk was a true companion.
Deputy Malin was employed full-time with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office from August 2011 to January 6, 2017. Myk and Deputy Malin worked together from July 2012 until January 2017.
K-9 Myk and Deputy Sheriff Mark Bellacero
Before becoming K-9 Myk’s handler with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office, I worked part-time patrol for 13 years. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, attended Peoria High School, and majored in Criminal Justice at Western Technical College in La Crosse. I have been in law enforcement since 2001 and have been with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office since 2003 as a patrol deputy. In November of 2016, I was able to live a dream of mine as an officer. I became the K-9 handler for Myk. Being a handler has far been one of the best things I have been able to do, and I am thankful for the opportunity the sheriff’s office has given me. I love my job and Myk. I am a father of two wonderful children. We were all thankful to have Myk as part of our family and as my partner.
K-9 Myk was a German Shephard Sable who was born on April 26th, 2010. Myk started training at 6 weeks old in Germany before being imported to the U.S. in April of 2012 by Steinig Tal K-9 Academy. Myk was trained as a dual-purpose K-9, certified in patrol work including narcotics, tracking/searching, obedience, and apprehension. Myk could alert on the following drugs: marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine, and its derivatives. Myk could track missing persons and to protect me if needed while on patrol.
K-9 Myk was assigned to Deputy Bellacero in October of 2016 after Deputy Sheriff Adam Malin was no longer able to be Myk’s handler. Deputy Bellacero attended K-9 Handler training at Steinig Tal K-9 Academy in November of 2016 and has since been hired full-time with the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office as of December 2016 as a patrol officer and K-9 Handler for Myk.
K-9 Myk worked his final patrol shift Friday, November 27, 2020, at the age of ten years and seven months, with Deputy Bellacero. Myk was recently diagnosed with cancer and suddenly passed away in his sleep on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at home with Deputy Bellacero by his side.
We are releasing this video beautifully produced by Linzi, DuWayne, and Chelsea Gronning; Hunter Pedretti; and De Soto Area Schools. We would also like to thank WKBT News Channel 8 for the additional video footage from Jordan Fremstad's excellent coverage of K-9 Myk's memorial service.