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Bow police dog program may survive

The Bow Police Department’s K-9 unit may carry on, despite the recent retirement of its longtime dog and official defunding of the program.

The Bow Police Association has begun fundraising to purchase a new dog and cover the future costs of the program, said police Chief Erin Commerford.

But the move has been met with some disapproval by officials who question whether the group recognizes and will be able to cover the program’s full expense, including equipment, vet bills, handler fees and a specially outfitted police cruiser, which is slated for replacement in coming years.

Last month, the police association distributed a letter to residents saying it hoped to raise $10,000 to help pay for a new dog. The letter mentioned nothing about ongoing expenses. Selectwoman Colleen Hunter announced at the board’s meeting last month that she had reservations about the effort because the board had voted not to continue the program during this fiscal year.

“I think we were all taken by surprise,” said select board Chairman Jack Crisp. “Obviously the association is an independent group, and I think they’re a great group, but we need to communicate better with one another.”

Commerford said the association, of which she is not a member, has since agreed to take on all costs associated with the program. She said she has given it until Aug. 23 to determine how much those annual costs will be, and explain how they intend to fund it. An example could be teaming up with the department for its annual Thanksgiving fundraiser, she said.

The program is important, she added, and will only become more so as the town continues to attract new businesses to the area.

“With the rise in business, we can’t be decreasing our police force,” she said.

Before Osci’s retirement in June, Bow’s K-9 program was one of the last in the county. Commerford said Hillsboro is the only other town that she knows to still have one.

Some municipalities in other parts of the state fund their programs through private donations, she said.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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