Norwich caroling group fundraises for new K-9 for Montville police

Members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church sing Christmas carols at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise the money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church sing Christmas carols at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise the money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Norwich — Initially, Brendan Rogers just threw some change into the big, blue water jug.

But once he found out where the money was going, he put his hands deep in his pockets and said "go big or go home."

Walmart shoppers on Wednesday night were treated to the tunes "O Come, all Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night" as a group of carolers raised money for a new K-9 for the Montville Police Department. The town has said it would not pay for the dog.

Shoppers seemed to enjoy the festive experience, oftentimes singing along as they made their way in and out of the store.

"These guys are out here doing a great job in our community. It's a tough job, so what's a few bucks," said Rogers, 40, of Norwich, when asked about his donation. "They deal with the worst of us."

Officer Dan Witts, 29, a former Marine who was selected to be the new K-9's handler, used part of his GI bill to purchase a dog, but it didn't pass the state inspection. Donations of other dogs also didn't work out. The police department has raised enough money for the cost of the dog — about $7,500 dollars — but has set a fundraising goal of $10,000 to cover the cost of equipment, vehicle outfitting and vet bills, Witts said.

He got a call out of the blue from Jason Matylewicz, 37, a fellow Marine and director of youth services at Norwich Alliance Church, saying he wanted to help out. The Awana Club and Youth Group from the Norwich Alliance Church, a group of junior high and high school students, have spent the past couple years caroling to raise money for certain organizations such as the Salvation Army and the food pantry in Norwich. This year, the group decided to fundraise for the K-9.

"It's nice to see the community backing the program," Witts said, standing outside of Walmart. He regularly receives calls from people in the community offering to host a fundraiser for the dog.

The department currently has a narcotics dog, a yellow Lab named Molly. The new K-9, a German shepherd, would be the department's first-ever patrol dog, Witts said. The dog will be trained how to track suspects and recover evidence in addition to narcotics.

j.bergman@theday.com

Joseph Kolker, 16, of Norwich accompanies members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church as they sing 'Silent Night' at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Joseph Kolker, 16, of Norwich accompanies members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church as they sing "Silent Night" at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Molly, the canine partner of Montville police K-9 Officer Addison Saffioti, joins her partner listening as members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church sing Christmas carols at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Molly, the canine partner of Montville police K-9 Officer Addison Saffioti, joins her partner listening as members of the youth group from Norwich Alliance Church sing Christmas carols at the entrance to Walmart on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, as a fundraiser to help Montville police Officer Dan Witts raise money to buy a dog as a K-9 partner. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

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