Photo Gallery | Dalton Police Department's newest K-9 officer Max

DALTON -- The town's newest police officer has a bullet/stab-proof vest fit for a dog.

Max, an 18-month old, 85-pound black German shepherd, received the body armor from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc, a nonprofit in East Taunton dedicated to protecting canines serving law enforcement agencies around the country.

Dalton Police Chief Jeffrey Coe said Max deserves the same protection as his handler,

Officer Matthew Mozzi and the rest of the Dalton Police Department.

"It doesn't take long to see Max shares our sense of pride to effectively serve the community," Coe said.


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"He is truly a member of our team and is treated like one of our own."

The vest valued at $950 is paid for through Vested Interest in K9s, which holds fundraisers and seeks corporate sponsorships to pay for the protective gear. Since 2009, the charity has provided over 930 law enforcement dogs in 39 states with the vests.

Three months ago, Max and Mozzi became active-duty partners after both successfully completed an eight-week patrol school held by the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office.

This fall, the crime-fighting duo will attend a drug detection training and certification class.

While Max has yet to be called upon to track a suspect or find a missing person, Mozzi believes his four-legged partner will be up to the challenge when pressed into action.

"I've seen a huge change in Max since I first got him -- he's no longer a green rookie," he said. "We've been patrolling, walking the streets."

The Dalton Police Department has joined Adams, North Adams, Pittsfield, Lanesborough Williamstown, Great Barrington and the Sheriff's Office on the list of local law enforcement agencies with canine units.

A $26,000 grant from the New York City-based Stanton Foundation allowed Dalton to purchase Max, bred in the Netherlands, from a kennel in Pennsylvania. The funding also paid for the training, retro-fitting a police cruiser to accommodate Max and other start-up costs for the canine unit. Adams received a similar grant to establish it's canine unit earlier this spring. Named for the late CBS broadcast executive Frank Nicholas Stanton, the foundation's involvement in such grants stems from the low-profile nonprofit's interest in canine welfare issues.

Aside from chasing suspects and sniffing for illegal narcotics, police dogs are a great public relations tool, according to Mozzi.

"I was up at a block dance in Hinsdale and people came up as they wanted to see and know about [Max,]" he said. "Kids just can't wait to meet him."

Coe expects Mozzi and Max to be a well respected part of the Dalton police force.

"Matt is a highly dedicated officer with a strong work ethic [and] because of his personality and the bond he is creating, Max too is dedicated and proves to be a worker," aid the police chief. "It is our hope that the community will immediately recognize how professional Matt is as a handler when they look at Max."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233