MANCHESTER — The next Manchester Police Department officer has been born and is only weeks away from being chosen and beginning its training.
One of seven Labrador retriever puppies will become the first Manchester Police Department K-9 officer. Six black and one yellow Lab pups are in the running, with tests to be conducted at five weeks and about eight weeks to see which shows the drive to play that will make it the right choice.
Police Officer Ben Doucette, who will be the K-9 handler, said a breeder in Huntsville, Ala., has the litter and breeds dogs for the Marine Corps, New Jersey State Police and several other law enforcement agencies.
“The breeder will pick the dog with the highest toy drive,” Doucette said. “A dog that just wants to play and play and play, something to work for, rather than being food driven.”
That decision will be made in about six weeks, and the pup will make its way north.
That should be the first week of December.
But first, money has to be raised to pay for the dog, its gear, a new cruiser that will be outfitted with special safety and security features for the dog, and more.
A total of about $67,000 will be raised, and Doucette and Police Chief Patrick Owens said the money will be raised with little, if any, taxpayer money being used to launch the program.
That money will mostly go to the cruiser, about $60,000 for the car, a special dog cage to protect the pup during hard or evasive driving, a special heating and air conditioning system with alarms if the temperature gets too hot or too cold; Doucette and police dispatch will receive alerts, and the windows will automatically roll down if the temp is too high inside the car.
The remaining $7,000 is for the cost of the dog, travel, gear, training and other costs.
To help with the fundraising event, a dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at curATE cafe at the Southern Vermont Art Center.
The three-course meal will feature a fall chicory salad with dried cranberries; a choice of Moroccan chicken with a sweet potato puree and broccolini, or a pork rib-eye with rum apples and cherries, whipped potatoes and broccolini. Dessert will be apple crisp with fresh whip.
There will be a vegetarian and vegan meal option, as well, and a cash bar.
The dinner will be $100 per plate and tickets can be purchased at Manchester Police Department or at the Manchester town offices.
There will be raffles, a silent auction, live auction and more ways to participate and have a great time with items in all price ranges so everybody can play.
Headlining the event is Jonathan Goldsmith, formerly known as the Most Interesting Man in the World, for his acting gig in Dos Equis commercials where he became a household face and voice.
Goldsmith will be available for a meet and greet.
“He’s done a fair amount in putting this all together,” Owens said. “He’s always been a supporter of us.”
The chief said Goldsmith knew Doucette and Sgt. Jesse Bravata when they were with the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department.
“They broke the idea to him, and he loved it,” Owens said.
After the money is raised, Manchester school children should start getting ready for name-choosing duties.
Doucette said a few names will be presented to area kids, who will then get the honor of choosing the name of Manchester’s first police dog.