- Written by Ian McCourt
- Published: 16 July 2014
When Zar, the police dog who served Duxbury for 10 years, retired last year, there was a hole to fill in the Duxbury Police Department. That hole has been filled by Delta, a young Dutch Shepherd who was ready to serve his community from the moment he was born.
Delta was a part of the fourth litter from a breeding program designed specifically for police dogs in Massachusetts. But while most dogs don’t begin training until they’re about 18 months old, Delta was ahead of the curve. A strong and mature leader from the beginning, he was selected to replace Zar at only 11 months old. After beginning his 16-week training program in September, Delta joined the force officially on Jan. 28 — and he’s already a part of the Duxbury community.
“He’s my partner,” said Duxbury’s K9 Officer, Ryan Cavicchi, a tattoo of footprints and paw prints crawling together up his left arm. “He’s a part of the department.”
When posing for a photo, Cavicchi spoke to Delta like any human would a close friend. Playing around in front of the police station, they got still for a photo and a smile almost crept across Delta’s face.
Cavicchi worked with Zar for a decade, always in each other’s presence — from just driving to work in the morn- ing to facing gunshots. Now the legacy will carry on with Delta, and Cavicchi wants Duxbury’s citizens to love and support these dogs as much as he does.
“My main goal is to have him be a community dog,” said Cavicchi. “Everyone loves dogs.”
But as with anyone, human or canine, transitioning to a new job takes some work. To help maintain the program and protect the community, officers, and the dogs themselves, and the police departments of Duxbury and Marshfield will be holding a fundraiser on July 25 from 7-11 p.m. at Haddad’s in Marshfield.
“Having a dog is a tool for the community for a lot of different reasons,” Duxbury’s Chief of Police Matthew Clancy said. “For finding missing children, or if an Alzheimer’s patient gets lost, having a dog is tremendous in a search environment. From the law enforcement side, if there’s a burglary in progress, for example, we’re able to get a dog in and rectify a situation where you might not initially want an officer.”
But with the added benefits of a police dog comes added costs. “With a new dog, there comes some equipment issues we need to take care of. Protective vests and things aren’t always something that can carry from one dog to the next,” Clancy said. “Just like your pair of shoes, they don’t necessarily fit everybody.”’
While police officers get salaries and pensions, police dogs can’t exactly pay for their own expenses. The department is looking for the community’s help: not only do they have to fund equipment, training, and medical expenses, they also would like to set up a retirement fund, so that retired dogs like Zar can maintain a standard of living.
Delta, on the other paw, has to stay in-shape for work.
“They’re pro-athletes. Just like humans, they have to be physically fit to get the job done,” Cavicchi said. “Like us, they have to keep training, otherwise they will get lazy.”
“No table-scraps,” he said with a chuckle.
But the officer wants to stress that they’re not junk- yard dogs. People worry that police dogs are vicious, he said. That’s not true. They’ll only bite on command on very rare occasions. They’re very self-controlled and quiet. When they need to work, it’s on, he said. But they’re still dogs. Both Zar and Delta live at home with Cavicchi’s wife and kids.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said.
Chief Clancy said the community has played a significant role in the use of police dogs in town.
“I want to point out that historically, the residents have been extremely supportive,” Chief Clancy said. “When we’ve had a need, the response has always been outstanding. We’re cautiously optimistic that this fundraiser will be equally successful.”
“We don’t know how much crime a dog has deterred,” Cavicchi said. “Many potential criminals could just see the dog and decide we’re not a place to mess with. It truly is a great fix for the community.”
The fundraiser for the K9 program at Haddad’s Ocean Cafe on July 25 costs $25. There will be a live band, “Second Chance,” many raffle prizes, and food. One hundred percent of the funds go to the K9 programs. While Delta will not be there, Officer Cavicchi will gladly answer any questions. If you cannot attend the fundraiser, donations can be mailed to the Town of Duxbury, 155 Mayflower Street, Duxbury, MA, 02332 with attention to the Marshfield/Duxbury K9 Fundraiser, or can be submitted online, at marsh- fieldduxburypolicek9fundrais- er.myevent.com.