How We Support Crime-Fighting Canines

Not long after 1:30 a.m. one Saturday morning last winter, Granby police requested the assistance of a K-9 unit after a motor vehicle accident in which the operator had fled the scene. K-9 Apache, part of the Belchertown K-9 Unit, was deployed. It didn’t take him long to catch a scent and locate an injured male.

This is one example of how the Belchertown K-9 Unit has been faithfully serving the region with expertise—and one example of why we are glad to support the unit as one of the recipients of our 2018 Customers’ Choice Community Grants program.

This year marked the first year the organization received votes from our customers, earning it a grant of $928 at our awards event in March.

“I’d like to thank everybody who voted for us and thank the bank for this event,” Adam Brougham, the K-9 handler for the unit, said at the celebration we held in the Garden House at Look Memorial Park. “It’s awesome to be included. I’m very grateful that the customers and the citizens put us here.”

The funds came at an appropriate time for the unit. One of the K-9s, a Dutch Shepherd, had a broken toe that had been in a cast for six weeks. Adam had two more veterinarian appointments lined up before he could get his canine partner back on her feet.

“The gift helped to offset the cost of those remaining vet bills,” he says.

The Belchertown K-9 Unit is made up of K-9 Apache and K-9 Theia. Together, the animals have a skill-set that includes bomb, explosives, ammunition and gunpowder detection, and they are trained in searches such as illegal narcotics, missing persons and recovery of evidence.

The K-9 Unit is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During these hours, they cover the entire town’s jurisdictional territory. The unit relies 100 percent on donations.

“It’s very heartwarming to me,” says Adam of the grant. “This unit started 10 years ago from nothing. To have the citizens of the town—the customers at Florence Bank—vote for us lets me know we’re appreciated, that we’re doing a good thing. We’re running a good program.”

Adam notes that the grant funds were also used to pay for dog food, which costs $60 a bag, and for annual certifications that cost the unit between $300 and $400.

The Belchertown K-9 Unit was one of 57 area nonprofits to receive a grant at our March 21 awards event, at which we celebrated reaching the $1.05 million mark in giving over nearly 20 years through our Customers’ Choice Community Grants program. This year we presented $100,000 in awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 to 57 community nonprofits.

As he raised a glass to lead all recipients in a toast, our President and CEO John F. Heaps Jr. said, “We started 16 years ago with an idea to ask our customers to vote for a worthy organization to receive funds. Here’s to the $1 million mark. And here’s to you, for making our communities special with your contributions every day.”

To learn more about the Belchertown K-9 Unit or keep up with how they’re serving our communities, visit them on their Facebook page.