Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Wilbraham police officer and K9 raise money for police dog vests

Date: 9/11/2014

WILBRAHAM – For Officer Joseph Brewer and his partner Charon, a 7-year old German Shepard police dog, protection for law enforcement officers cannot be understated. Recently, both officers were featured in the January 2015 calendar for Vested Interest in K9s Inc., which raises funding to provide bullet and stab protective vests to police dogs throughout the country.

Vested Interest in K9s Inc. is a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization based in Taunton founded by Sandy Marcal.

Marcal has volunteered her time working with K9 teams across the country during the past 13 years and has helped secure funding for over 580 bullet and stab protective vests for K9s.

“The dogs are considered police officers like we are, we’re issued the bullet proof vests but most town budgets don’t have funding to support purchasing a vest for the dogs,” Brewer said. 

Most of the surrounding communities, including Springfield, Palmer, Ludlow, Monson, Southwick, Westfield, and West Springfield have had K9 vests funded through Vested Interest in K9s, he said.

“All of the proceeds from their fundraising efforts [go] into the vests,” he added.

The Vested Interest calendar fundraiser began last year and typically raises between $1,000 and $15,000, depending on sales, he said. This is the first year that Brewer and Charon have been featured in the calendar.

Brewer said Charon was imported from the Czech Republic and is certified in patrol work and narcotics detection.

“He’s a great dog, he’s a hard working dog,” Brewer said. “He’s very driven but he’s also got a nice social personality. So when it’s time for him to be the aggressive police dog, he can show those traits.

“But he’s also the kind that I can bring to a preschool and read to the kids and he’ll let them pet him,” he added.

In 2010, Charon’s vest was sponsored by then 12-year-old Lily Aisenberg of Sudbury, according to the police department’s website.

Wilbraham’s K9 program expenses for equipment are completely funded by donations, he explained.

“I would say that since we’ve had a K9 program in town, we’ve probably raised about $25,000,” he said. “Our funds right now are on the lower side; we got a new car last year and had to buy equipment for the car.”

When Charon reaches retirement age in the next three or four years one major expense will be the funds for a new police dog, he added.

“The equipment necessary to support a K9 program is expensive, but the benefits exceed the cost,” Police Chief Roger Tucker said. “Having the ability to use private resources to fund some of those items greatly helps the departments bottom line.”

The photo for the Vested Interest for K9s calendar was taken at the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, which houses the 104th Fighter Wing. In the past, Brewer and Charon have partnered with the 104th Security Forces Squadron for security details and dignitary protection.

“Officer Brewer’s training and experience as a K9 handler is exceptional and he is a recognized valuable asset not only to the town of Wilbraham, but [he is] frequently requested to assist other law enforcement agencies in the region,” Tucker said.