Mayor says New London police can keep bloodhound Bessie

New London — Bessie soon may be back in the police business.

The bloodhound was put in a kennel last month after her handler took a job in another police department. The trained police tracking dog was going to be donated to another department.

But Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced Tuesday that Bessie would remain with the New London department and would be reassigned to another city officer.

The mayor announced the changes in the K-9 program a day after the City Council passed a unanimous resolution urging the administration to maintain at least four dogs in the police department. The resolution specifically called for Bessie and Buck, a German shepherd, to remain in the New London department.

Finizio reaffirmed his decision that Buck, who was retired because of health reasons, will remain off duty.

Finizio had eliminated the two canine positions in June, leaving only one police dog in the department, as required by the police union contract. With Bessie coming back, the department will have two dogs. Officer Todd Lynch, the police union president, is paired with Jasper, a German shepherd.

“Well, what do you know,’’ said City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran, who has raised thousands of dollars over the past few years to support the department’s K-9 program. “I’m glad to hear this and I’m appreciative this is going to happen. It’s a small step forward in restoring the K-9 unit.”

Bessie has been in a kennel in Norwich for several weeks at a cost of about $30 a day, Friess-McSparran said.

Lynch, the union president, said there has not been a call for volunteers to take on Bessie, but the dog needs to be taken out of the kennel as soon as possible.

“She’s been in a kennel long enough to be broken,’’ Lynch said. “Whoever is interested should be given the dog right away.”

Finizio sent an email late Tuesday morning to city councilors announcing the changes.

“I fully support a K-9 program that employs the use of detection and tracking dogs, such as our bloodhound Bessie,” Finizio said. “I reiterate that as a matter of policy I do not support the use of biting/patrol dogs in City law enforcement ...”

The city is in the midst of contract negotiations with the police union. Finizio said he cannot comment further on any ongoing collective bargaining matters.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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