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Joyce Endee

Plymouth Police Dog Fund gets off to a great start

You can count on Laurie Coffin to come through with support for the care and maintenance of K9 crews. Coffin, of Noseworthy Real Estate in Ashland, has jump-started the Plymouth Police Dog Fund with a generous check for $500 to support the newest addition to the Plymouth P.D., a working German Shepard, born last week, to be trained and handled by Sgt. Derek Newcomb (center) for search and rescue, narcotics detection and patrol duty. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
February 22, 2011
PLYMOUTH—It will be a year or more before Plymouth residents see the newest member of the Plymouth Police Department out on patrol. But already, the new addition has generated a bit of a buzz around the department, and efforts are underway to support the intense program of training and care that will be needed to get the latest member up to speed.

A puppy, born last week, will eventually go on duty under the expert guidance of Sgt. Derek Newcomb, who has worked hard to get a police dog program off the ground in Plymouth. With the birth of the litter at the Vomhaus Mansfield Kennel in Merrimack last week, that dream is on the way to becoming a reality.

At Newcombs's instigation, the kennel has generously donated one of their champion German Shepherds to the Plymouth P.D., and now is the time for the community to rally behind its force with funds to support the new police dog program.

It is no inexpensive proposition to train a skilled working dog and handler in the nuances of search and rescue, narcotics detection and patrol, with weeks of training ahead once the dog has attained the maturity and physical capability to go through the rigorous course of instruction. Then there are the veterinarian bills, and of course, enough food to keep a growing puppy healthy and growing strong.

But thanks to the unparalleled enthusiasm of Laurie Coffin of Noseworthy Real Estate in Ashland, who has dedicated her life, in memory of Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee, to the care and support of military and police K9 units, the task has gotten off to a great start.

The future of law enforcement in Plymouth started out as a member of this newborn litter of German Shepherd puppies at the Vomhaus Mansfield Kennel in Merrimack. (Courtesy Photo)
This past week, Coffin visited the Plymouth P.D. to congratulate Newcomb on the "new arrival" and offer her support. She started with a donation of $500 to the Plymouth Police Dog Fund, and promised to help with ongoing fundraising efforts for the program. She challenges other community members to step up to the plate.

For Coffin, it is a mission of love and gratitude. Two years ago, after reading about the poignant story of Cpl. Lee, killed in the service of our country in Fallujah, Iraq, and his military police dog, Lex, Coffin sprang into action to express her gratitude and honor the service of the K9 bomb detection team. While grievously injured, Lex survived the blast that killed his handler, and stayed by Lee's side as he lay dying of his battlefield wounds.

In an unprecedented move, the military was eventually convinced to retire the young working dog early, and to allow Lee's family to adopt their hero as their own. He now travels the country as an ambassador for the troops, in memory of the sacrifice of Cpl. Lee.

"I call it the long arm of Dustin Lee," explains Coffin. "Through these fundraising efforts, he continues to touch military and police dog units around the country, and now, right here at the Plymouth Police Department."

Newcomb is as excited as any new dad could possibly be. Video of the new puppies has been circulating around the department, and Newcomb gets a lot of handshakes from his fellow officers. At eight weeks old, the dog will come home to live with Newcomb's family, including the two German Shepherds he already owns. Newcomb will care for the dog until it is ready to undergo its New Hampshire State Police Dog Patrol School program and begin duty in 2012.

In the meantime, Coffin says it can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 to get the dog ready for service. Given the tight budgetary restrictions the police department is working under, the Plymouth P.D. is reaching out to the community to financially support the program.

"A canine is a very versatile tool for police departments," explains Newcomb. "It can do several different jobs, and can act very efficiently and cost effectively as a police officer, helping with searches, locating missing adults or children, doing narcotics detection and building searches. Research has shown that a police dog, by its very presence, is a huge criminal deterrent, as well."

Coffin says that everything she does is in the name of Dustin Lee and Lex. She hosts "soldier's weekends" in the White Mountains for service members who are about to be deployed, and she holds a big annual fundraiser to support military K9 units every year.

"People love our soldiers. They are very generous. I never have to ask twice," says Coffin.

In addition to the money, she presented Newcomb with a copy of the book "How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend" and a commemorative patch in honor of Dustin Lee and Lex..."Forever on Watch."

Contributions to the Plymouth Police Dog Fund can be sent to the Plymouth Police Department, c/o Plymouth Police Dog Fun, 334 Main St., Plymouth, NH 03264. More information can be obtained by contacting Newcomb at dlnewcomb@plymouth.edu, or by phone at 536-1804, ext. 143.

The Record Enterprise will keep everyone posted on the progress of the program.

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