K-9 Thor, Handler Officer Joshua DeJesus Currently Attending 16-week Training Program
EAST BRIDGEWATER — Chief Paul O’Brien and Deputy Chief Michael Jenkins are pleased to announce that the East Bridgewater Police Department recently welcomed its first ever K-9.
K-9 Thor, a one-year-old German Shepard, and handler Officer Joshua DeJesus, are currently eight weeks into a 16-week training and certification program, after which K-9 Thor will immediately be put into service as an active member of the department.
In the fall of 2020, Chief O’Brien and Deputy Chief Jenkins began researching how to fund and implement a K-9 program in East Bridgewater. In March of this year they were approached by local business owners Dan DeSantis and Michael Payton, on behalf of Hometown Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit charity that works to place K-9s with police departments at no cost.
East Bridgewater Police were excited to partner with Hometown Foundation, and after receiving approval from the Board of Selectmen in May Officer DeJesus was selected as the future handler for the K-9. EBPD consulted with several area K-9 programs to learn more about implementing a K-9 program.
On June 25, Deputy Chief Jenkins, Officer DeJesus and Massachusetts DOC K-9 trainer Sgt. Mark O’Reilly traveled to Kennel Zo Slovenskeho Dvora in Trumbull, Connecticut to select a K-9. The dog selected was renamed Thor in honor of East Bridgewater’s Viking mascot. He was brought home to live with Officer DeJesus and his family, and the 16-week training then began.
“So far the training has gone extremely well, and we are excited about having K-9 Thor begin serving the East Bridgewater community,” Deputy Chief Jenkins said. “We have been looking into starting a K-9 program for a while, and the benefits are clear. Thor will be an invaluable resource, both in terms of what he will bring assisting our officers as well as being a positive ambassador for our department with members of the community.”
In addition to funding 100 percent of the cost of the dog, Hometown Foundation also provided a bulletproof vest and Garmin GPS collar, as well as transportation for the department to meet with the breeder and select the dog.
This is the first K-9 that Hometown Foundation has placed with a Massachusetts-based police department. In total they have placed 27 K-9s with departments in 12 states since 2017.
“We truly believe that every police department can benefit from what a K-9 offers, and we were honored to be able to place Thor with the East Bridgewater Police Department and Officer Josh DeJesus,” said Hometown Foundation Program Development Coordinator Caylee Richardson. “Our K-9 initiative program is one of our biggest efforts, and it means a lot when we contribute to a community and local law enforcement in such a meaningful way.”
For DeSantis and Payton, it meant even more being able to give back to their local community.
“I was born and raised in East Bridgewater and raised my family in town, so it is very special to be able to give back to the community and the residents through this program,” Payton said. “I think Thor will be very positive for the town, and for the East Bridgewater Police.”
East Bridgewater Police have already held one fundraiser to assist the new K-9 program. On July 17, EBPD partnered with Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog and Mollie’s Tenth Annual Vest-A-Dog Fundraiser that featured raffles, K-9 demonstrations and more. In total, the event raised over $20,000 for equipment and supplies for the new East Bridgewater Police K-9 program.
The department will also be holding a cornhole tournament fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 28. It will take place at the Commercial Club on Neilson Avenue to further benefit the K-9 program. The event will feature raffles, food trucks, a cash bar and more. Cost for a two-person team to participate in the cornhole tournament is $100, and those wishing to participate (or donate) can do so by clicking here. The event will be family-friendly, but children must be accompanied by an adult.
Anyone wishing to make a check donation or raffle (prize) donation as part of the Aug. 28 event can email Deputy Chief Jenkins at email@example.com
or Officer Cecelia Cacciatore at firstname.lastname@example.org. All checks can be made payable to: East Bridgewater Police Department K-9 Program.
In addition to formal fundraisers, several local residents and business owners have also donated approximately $3,500 to the K-9 program.
Anyone wishing to donate to the program can contact Deputy Chief Jenkins at email@example.com.
“We are extremely thankful for the many individuals who have helped us during this process, not only teaching us about the K-9 program but also in assisting us financially,” Chief O’Brien said. “We are grateful for the Hometown Foundation and Dan DeSantis and Michael Payton for donating Thor to us, and to our K-9 advisory group, in particular Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte, for their guidance and support. We are very eager to have Thor join the ranks of the East Bridgewater Police and hope it is the start of a very long and beneficial K-9 program for our department.”
Members of the EBPD K-9 advisory group included Chief Paul O’Brien, Deputy Chief Michael Jenkins, Massachusetts Department of Corrections K-9 trainer Sgt. Mark O’Reilly, Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte, Bridgewater Police K-9 Officer Steve Kingsley, Bridgewater K-9 Officer Chris Rondeau, Brockton K-9 Sgt. Robert Dillido and Middleboro K-9 Sgt. Jerry Donahue.