Easton’s heavily wooded areas, reservoirs and large older population make having a K9 officer like TJ a vital component of the Easton Police Department. “If someone were lost or wandering, I feel confident in TJ’s tracking skills that he would be able to find them,” said TJ’s handler Officer Tamara French, who has been with TJ for three years.
Although many Easton residents know their local K9 officer, they may be unaware that TJ is fully funded by donations rather than the police department’s regular budget. This means that Officer French must raise funds every year to keep TJ on the force.
T-shirt and sweatshirt fundraisers have already raised $4,000 in donations, and French is currently fundraising by selling coasters with TJ’s picture on them for $25.
The funds go towards paying for vet bills, training, and food for TJ, who has a special diet. TJ’s food allergies require French to buy Bravo Turkey Balance Raw dog food made for sensitive skin. This need comes to $7 a day for TJ’s meals.
In addition to food, TJ must attend training two times a month and be certified twice a year. Each training session requires a trainer to be paid approximately $2,500 plus around $200 for the necessary certifications. TJ must continue to be trained for as long as he remains a K9 officer.
“It’s just hard because I think most people in town don’t realize that TJ is fully funded by donations and not covered by the police department,” said French.
TJ’s Instagram handle “eastonpd_k9tj” has over sixteen thousand fans, many of whom frequently comment and interact with TJ’s posts. One of these fans, Renee Dinino, featured TJ on her “Amazing K9 Duo” segment on Channel 3 Eyewitness News.
In December Selectman Kristi Sogofsky and Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Ray Martin brought the Easton Republicans together to donate a $570 check to TJ. “TJ is a remarkable asset to our community and to our neighbors,” said Sogofsky. “We’re happy to help make sure he has the best care and training possible.”
Below is a photo of the PayPal QR code that can be used for donations. If you do not have PayPal you can send a check to The Easton Police Department, 700 Morehouse Rd, Easton CT 06612.