Manchester Police Welcome First “Comfort Dog”


Police Dept. Chief Todd Fitzgerald and rest of the Manchester-by-the-Sea Police Dept. last week announced the arrival of the department’s newest officer, its first comfort dog.
Daisy is a five-month-old female yellow Labrador retriever and she arrived for service on Wednesday, April 17, from Professional Canine Services in Middleborough.
The dog will be assigned to School Resource Officer Andrea Locke, who will house her.
The K-9 will provide general support for students, faculty, and staff of Manchester Essex Regional School District, as well as the town’s senior population. The K-9 also will serve as a department ambassador downtown and at Masconomo Park, especially during community events.
“While a comfort dog can create positive interactions within a community, it also can greatly assist with our public safety work,” Chief Fitzgerald said. “A dog can be a calming influence when we meet with a child victim or witness, provide a sense of comfort during a mental health intervention, and reduce the stress felt by residents during a critical incident.”
MERHS first-year students Cate Vendt and Scarlet Lee first proposed the idea for a comfort dog at the High School to SRO Locke. The students worked with SRO Locke to develop a formal proposal. A meeting was set up with Chief Fitzgerald and Lt. Mark McCoy, where the students presented their proposal.
SRO Locke and Lt. McCoy presented the idea to the Select Board, which approved it at its Tuesday, April 16 meeting. The students and the officers will present this to Manchester Essex Regional School Committee on May 21 for its approval.
Program funding will start with the Department’s current K-9 allocation and its North Shore Health Outreach Account for mental health programming. Lt. McCoy is working with the Hooper Fund to secure additional financial support for the initial cost of the dog and required training.
“Thank you to the Select Board for its approval, and its ongoing support for our programs,” Chief Fitzgerald said. “The Department truly appreciates the positive working relationship we have with the Board.”
Chief Fitzgerald said he wanted to thank the Manchester Masons Lodge, Manchester Rotary Club, and resident Ralph Bates for donations. The Essex County Co-Op and Crosby’s Market also pitched in and provided dog food and supplies.
Chief Fitzgerald also said the Manchester Essex Regional High School Class of 2024 has already pledged to donate a portion of its class funds as their class gift toward Daisy’s startup costs.