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police & fire

$50K Gift to Help Wilton Police Launch K-9 Unit

WILTON, Conn. – Well, Wilton, it's official. You’re getting a police dog . During a meeting Wednesday night, the Wilton Police Department accepted a donation that made starting the program a reality.

Officer Stephen Rangel , chosen from five Wilton officers to be the handler for the new police dog, said it was “very exciting,” not only for the town, but for him as well, though he said he recognizes the huge amount of work that will go into being the canine handler.

The dog will free the department from having to call on other departments when it needs the special abilities a dog can provide. “This is the type of program that is extremely helpful to our town,” said First Selectman Bill Brennan .

“There have been so many instances where we have needed a canine and had to rely on the state police or neighboring towns, and a lot of times they’re not available,” Rangel said. “So having a canine that will be available all the time for the town is a great asset.”

Rangel will spend nine weeks training with the dog, which is not expected to arrive until August. Police Chief Michael Lombardo said he has requested a female dog, because they are less aggressive.

“It’s just another way for the Police Department to interact with the residents and to enhance our community policing,” Lombardo said. He added that without the donation from Blue Buffalo , the department would not have been able to start the program at this time.

The pet food company, owned by a Wilton family, donated $50,000 to the department’s canine unit. The money will help to fund the canine program for the next three years. “At least, that’s the plan,” said co-founder Bill Bishop.

Bishop, who grew up in Wilton, said, “I just think it’s important to give back to the community.”

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