PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — From tracking suspects to finding illegal drugs to comforting victims, the Pawtucket Police Department's K-9 Unit has a number of important roles.
"My K-9 is a golden doodle, not your typical police dog," Detective Trevor Lefebvre said of K-9 Watson. "It's a therapy dog. It's going to be used with victims of crimes, make them feel more comfortable talking with us. Basically, the face of the department in ways, reach out to the community, residents, businesses."
Aside from Watson, the unit also consists of K-9 Neko, a tracking bloodhound whose focus will include searching for missing people and locating evidence, and officers Argo and Magno, who will be tasked with suspect apprehension, crowd control, and narcotics detection.
While the K-9s' roles vary, some could find themselves in hazardous situations.
"The narcotics dogs will face the same dangers as patrol officers," K-9 Officer Jim Leach said Thursday. "They can come in contact with fentanyl, just like police officers."
To make sure the K-9s remain safe on the job, the department is working with Project Paws Alive to raise $18,000 for safety equipment for the dogs, including Narcan kits, military-grade first aid trauma kits, cooling vests, and climate-monitoring systems for the K-9 cruisers.
"If the temperature does get too high, the windows roll down and the sirens go off and I will get an alert tone on my cell phone so I can tend to the dog," Leach explained.
Project Paws Alive is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide K-9 units with adequate equipment at no cost to taxpayers.
Police said they hope to reach their fundraising goal by next month so they can install the equipment by this summer.