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As town police prepare to acquire a new male German shepherd to replace their dog which died in April, Newtown Kennel Club has donated $15,000 to the police department for the purchase of a new dog, plus related costs.
In ceremonies at a June 6 Police Commission meeting, club representatives presented a check in that amount to Police Chief James Viadero.
The $15,000 gift is intended to cover the dog’s purchase, plus the training-related costs for the animal, explained club secretary Lisa Peterson. The club raised the money through various fundraising activities.
Police Commission Chairman Joel Faxon commented, “That is a spectacular gift… We really appreciate it.”
“We know how important the K-9 unit is to the community,” Ms Peterson said.
“This is going to get our K-9 program back on track,” said Chief Viadero.
The police chief noted that police have been training a German shepherd for the past several weeks. The department would acquire that dog if the animal passes required testing and basic training.
“Everything is looking well, right now,” he said. If that dog is approved for acquisition, police would hold a ceremony within a couple of months to welcome the dog to the police department.
In a statement, the chief said, “The partnership and support that has been developed over the years with the Newtown Kennel Club has allowed this [police] agency to provide K-9 services to the Town of Newtown.
Without their continued support, the program would most certainly have been in jeopardy of not continuing in such an expeditious manner.”
Newtown Kennel Club President Helen Nietsch said, “The Newtown Kennel Club has a long history of supporting Newtown’s K-9 Unit.”
“The club donated to the purchase of Saint Michael and gave annual donations for his care, training, and well-being. Our hearts went out to Police [K-9] Officer Felicia Figol… and the Newtown community, for the tragic loss of our only police [dog],” she said.
“We understand and support the important role the K-9 unit plays in the community and wanted to ensure that funding for another dog was not an obstacle to [moving] forward,” Ms Nietsch said.
The new dog would replace the 4-year-old Saint Michael, who died in April after developing an aggressive form of cancer. The dog was euthanized after it became clear to veterinarians how extensively the dog’s the cancer had spread. The form of cancer that Saint Michael had is known as hemangiosarcoma. It is a rapidly growing, invasive cancer of the blood vessels.
Saint Michael entered Newtown police patrol service in 2014.
Town police have had their dogs trained for drug detection, suspect tracking and apprehension, and finding lost people.