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K-9 Gronk ready to help Athol Police take a bite out of crime

  • Submitted photoNew England Patriots Rob Gronkowski gets a "Big Subkowski" - a chicken strips, cheese and guacamole sandwich - at the Subway restaurant 2250 Main St. in Athol in February 2017. It was this visit that inspired Athol Police Chief Russell Kleber to name the department's new K9 as "Gronk," after the NFL tight end.

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli Athol Police K-9 Officer Craig Deveneau and new K-9 Gronk outside the Athol Police Department. —Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli Athol Police K-9 Officer Craig Deveneau and new K-9 Gronk outside the Athol Police Department. —Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic PoliAthol Police K-9 Officer Craig Deveneau and new K-9 Gronk outside the Athol Police Department.

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic PoliAthol Police K-9 Officer Craig Deveneau and new K-9 Gronk outside the Athol Police Department.



Recorder Staff
Friday, May 19, 2017

ATHOL — The Athol Police Department’s newest officer is expected to graduate from academy training in July. And he’s been working his tail off to make sure that happens.

Gronk, a 1-year-old male German shepherd, is putting his best paw forward with K-9 Officer Craig Deveneau in a 14-week training period in eastern Massachusetts. Police Chief Russell Kleber said his department has not had a K-9 for seven or eight years.

“It’s a force multiplier,” Kleber said outside his station in the middle of National Police Week. “They do so much work and they love to work. That makes them happy.”

Kleber said Gronk’s costs are covered by a $25,000 Stanton Foundation grant that will eventually be followed by more money for additional training. The chief said the money pays for the purchase of the dog, training, equipment, food and veterinary care. He said Gronk was born in the Czech Republic and was purchased from a distributor in North Carolina.

Deveneau, in his 21st year with the department, said training is going exceptionally well. He said he also owns a bloodhound and works with the Northeast Houndsmen, a nonprofit organization of K-9 teams.

Kleber said Gronk will be used for tracking missing people, suspects and criminals, detecting drugs and serving as the furry public face of the department during police demonstrations. He said police K-9s are considered officers for all intents and purposes.

Like any good New Englander, Kleber said he wanted to name the dog after a Boston sports figure, and picked the nickname for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The athlete is known to have stopped by the Subway restaurant at 2250 Main St. on his return from a February charity event at Sheffield Elementary School in Turners Falls.

Nancy Monette, owner of the Subway location, said Gronkowski ordered a foot-long sandwich with chicken strips, cheese and guacamole. She has since named this sandwich after him, calling it “The Big Subkowski.”

Kleber said he plans to have a swearing-in ceremony for Gronk the K-9 at the town’s Summerfest.

“The days of the police K-9 just being a mean, vicious dog are over,” he said. “This is a working dog and it’s a community dog and it’s our dog.”

You can reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli