Gilligan said the dogs have made a number of public appearances, including in the Halloween parade, and have been a big hit with the community.
“Part of starting the program was the community policing component, and that’s gone very well so far,” Gilligan said. “There are just so many tasks for them to do, and the immediacy of having your own dogs in your own community pays great dividends.”
There are approximately 300 K-9 dogs in police departments across the state, according to Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog, an organization that provides bulletproof vests and other equipment for the dogs.
Some of the departments have several dogs, like Boston, which has about 23, while others have just one. Danvers and Gloucester are among the local departments that have K-9s.
Mayor Bill Scanlon told city councilors that the biggest issue with a K-9 unit is the cost of maintaining it. The units are often the first to get cut when a department is facing budget problems, he said.
“I’m not against it, but I do think we want to be careful,” Scanlon said. “We can’t afford to have everything.”
Clark, the Lions Club president, said a dog costs about $6,500. The club hopes to raise $15,000 to cover training and other costs.
Clark said the club wants to raise the money by October, when the next training session for K-9s begins.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.