K9 officers off the force despite fundraising efforts - WFSB 3 Connecticut

K9 officers off the force in New London despite fundraising efforts

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NEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) -

Two New London police K9s are off the force Thursday evening even after a grassroots fundraising campaign this morning that raised $5,000 to keep them working.

K9 Officer Buck has been suffering from arthritis and has retired from active service, while K9 Bessie, whose handler left the department, was donated to another law enforcement agency.

New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced the retirement of Buck and the transfer of Bessie from the New London Police Department K-9 unit Thursday.

People, who called into local radio stations, were in an uproar Thursday morning after learning about the retirement of Buck because his arthritis medicine was expensive.

Representatives of the police union told Eyewitness News losing the two K9s is all about money and has nothing about the service and dedication given by these animals.

The annual bill to pay for the arthritis medication to take care of Buck is $720.

City officials said in a statement that they provided appropriate medication and care for Buck.

"Buck has served the city well and will go to a good and loving home," said Finizio.

However, people calling into the morning show for 94.9 FM, which is hosted by dog lover Lee Elci, offered to donate money toward the medication.

"People are wild with the way New London has handled this situation," Elci said. "Here's a dog that basically fought for everybody's safety and their just willing to throw it aside like a bag of dirt."

Buck is now the personal property of his handler, who will have to pay for the dog's medication, according to city officials.

Bessie was a bloodhound with the department and was sitting in a kennel for the past weeks at $25 per day after her handler joined the state police.

Bessie will go to another law enforcement agency- and Buck can enjoy retirement after a successful career fighting city crime, Finizio told Eyewitness News.

"Obviously cuts are being made throughout the city and this is one area we feel a cut can be made that has no impact on law enforcement need," Finizio said.

While Finizio told Eyewitness News the city's K9 program remains alive with one active dog, police union representative Dave McElroy said there is more to the story.

"Five thousand dollars was raised today in pledges would obviously cover more than the dogs' medication," McElroy said. "It's $180 every three months. We're not quite sure why this is being done."

The matter isn't fully settled. The city council's public safety committee is expected to take up the issue of K9s on Tuesday.

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