Wilton Police need a hand in fundraising for a new police K-9…per perhaps we should say they “need a paw.”

The department needs to start raising money to procure a new dog to partner with Ofc. Eric Patenaude, who was named as Wilton’s new K-9 handler after former canine officer Steven Rangel was promoted to Sergeant. Rangel had been partnered with Enzo, who has one more year of service, but due to a medical condition can no longer continue in the field.

Police chief Robert Crosby told the Police Commission at last week’s meeting that the department is hoping to raise the money privately from residents and businesses to defray costs of the program. The new K-9 has not yet been identified or selected, but it will be a Belgian Malinois specially bred and trained for police work. Patenaude will be selecting the dog and will train with it in a 12-week program focused on officer-canine bonding, scent imprinting, narcotic detection, human tracking and apprehension (bite work).

According to the department, the new dog will be handled exclusively by Patenaude, who has previous training as a special ops multipurpose canine handler through the US Marines Corps. Patenaude has also set up a Facebook page and Instagram account for residents to follow the K-9 team’s progress and news.

Donations toward the program will be tax deductible. Donations (payable to “Town of Wilton K-9 Unit”) can be sent to the Wilton Police Department (240 Danbury Rd., Wilton, CT 06897). For more information, contact K-9 Ofc. Patenaude directly at 203.834.6260.