After raising more than $73,000 for K9 Arlo's care earlier this year, the Thurston County Deputy Sheriffs Foundation has yet to decide what to do with most of the money.
Law enforcement accidentally shot the K9 after a high-speed chase with a suspect on Interstate 5 Jan. 13.
After recovering from the gunshots, Arlo was retired from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office out of worry for the dog's health and he was sold to his former handler, former deputy Tyler Turpin, for $1 on April 7.
Lt. Carla Carter started the fundraiser days after the incident. Months later, she tells The Olympian, the foundation, which is a separate organization from the Sheriff's Office, is still holding on to over $57,000 that Turpin has so far refused to accept.
"It just got really confusing, but I want Arlo to receive what the intention was of the citizens that donated," Carter said. "I have no intent on withholding the money or spending it in another way that isn't purely within the intentions of the people that donated it."
Turpin left his job at the Sheriff's Office on April 25. He later claimed he was pushed out by internal pressure after the Sheriff's Office probed his social media finances in February, The Chronicle reported.
On May 26, Turpin announced via Instagram he plans to challenge Sheriff John Snaza when he is up for reelection in 2022.
Snaza declined to comment on the reasons for Turpin's departure, saying he was not at liberty to discuss it. However, he did say he plans to run for reelection.
"I don't have anything personal against him," Snaza said. "I wish Tyler (Turpin) the very best at whatever he chooses to do, but I plan on being the sheriff for a long time. We'll see how it goes."
Turpin has not responded to multiple requests from The Olympian for comment on the situation. The Olympian has also requested the county share any public records related to Turpin's departure.
Arlo's medical care
Since the Sheriff's Office owned the dog at the time of the shooting, it has been billed $21,701 for his medical care, Snaza said. A draft of the county's first budget amendment of the year includes this cost.
The county does carry pet insurance for its K9s, but it must pay the medical costs upfront before being reimbursed. Arlo required emergency medical care at an animal hospital at Oregon State University.
Carter said she wrote two checks to the Sheriff's Office to cover costs the pet insurance did not, totaling $13,177.89. This covered two surgeries and subsequent checkups, Carter said.
In all, Carter said she has used $13,780.69 to help Arlo and Turpin. She said that includes the medical costs, a hotel where Turpin stayed during Arlo's surgeries, a playpen, padding and medicine.
Of the $73,705 Carter raised on GoFundMe, she has received just over $71,409.13 after fees, according to documents shared by Carter. In addition to that, the foundation also has directly accepted some donations from people who did not wish to donate through GoFundMe, she said.
Carter says the foundation is currently holding on to $57,678.44 that was earmarked for Arlo's care. When he left the Sheriff's Office, Turpin indicated he did not want anything to do with the foundation, she said.
What to do with the remaining funds?
On April 22, Turpin shared with his 123,000 Instagram followers that another nonprofit, Project K9 Hero, was helping him with Arlo's medical costs. Three days later, he shared a similar message with his 2.6 million TikTok followers.
"They contacted me back in January and have been there for us through this frustrating time," Turpin wrote on Instagram. "Knowing that Arlo's medical bills would be taken care by @projectk9hero was a huge relief and blessing."
When Turpin refused to accept funds from the foundation, Carter said she considered donating the remaining funds to nonprofits that care for service animals. However, she paused that plan because she said she felt confused by Turpin's messaging about how Arlo would continue to be cared for.
"I'm not into operating with confusion," Carter said. "So that money is just going to sit there until there is a clear path that aligns with the citizen's intentions of providing care for a service animal that was wounded."
Carter said she is unsure why Turpin decided to refuse help from the foundation but added she would be happy to engage with him again.
"If he's changed his mind, I'm happy to change the trajectory of it," Carter said. "I just haven't checked that possibility out, nor would that ever be my intent."
She said she's open to other creative solutions such as donating the money to the non-profit that Turpin indicated is taking care of Arlo's medical costs.
"It don't know what that looks like right now, but Tyler (Turpin) has my number and I'm happy to talk to him about it." Carter said.
The reaction to the funds
Carter said she felt humbled by the outpouring of support when she started the GoFundMe in January.
"I started the GoFundMe and it kind of took off," she said. "I wanted to provide peace of mind for Tyler as well that Arlo is going to be taken care of and he's going to get the best service."
When the fundraiser reached about $45,000, Carter said she closed it. However, she said Turpin encouraged her to keep it open as the cost of Arlo's care appeared to increase.
She said she closed it again when they reached the current amount of $73,705 because she wanted to see a bill before continuing the fundraiser.
The description on the GoFundMe page vaguely calls the incident an "officer-involved shooting" and never clearly indicated law enforcement shot Arlo.
At one point, Turpin, one of the six officers who opened fire during the incident, also claimed Arlo was shot by a suspect. That post has been deleted.
Despite the revelation, Carter says she has not received any criticism for how the GoFundMe description framed the incident.
"I didn't get one phone call saying, 'We're frustrated this wasn't brought into light,'" Carter said. "It was a tragic situation all around. I think most of the people that donated were just like, 'We want to see Arlo taken care of,' and they just had big hearts for animals too."
Carter said she's not sure how to communicate to the people who donated that a large portion of the funds are simply being left unused for now, as she considers what direction the foundation will take with the funds.