Police & Fire

Aroostook K-9 officer and professional good boy Jazz awarded national healthcare grant

MADAWASKA, Maine — K-9 officer Jazz is a laid-back chocolate lab who loves kids, but he’s got a dangerous job to do. Jazz is a detection dog with the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department, responsible for sniffing out illegal drugs like fentanyl.

The job puts Jazz in all kinds of potentially dangerous situations — if he were to inadvertently ingest one of the substances he was detecting or be hit by a car during a traffic stop, the resulting injuries could require long-term health care.

That’s why it was a big relief to his handler, Deputy Nathan Chisholm, when Jazz received a “Healthcare for K-9 Heroes” grant from Vested Interest in K-9s. The grant will cover all insurance premiums that Jazz may incur on-duty or off. 

“It’s a huge, huge peace of mind,” Chisholm said. “He’s essentially one of us.”

K-9 Jazz, a detection dog for the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department, recently received a grant to cover insurance premiums on future medical costs. (Courtesy of Deputy Nathan Chisholm)

Vested Interest, a Massachusetts-based charity specializing in dog protective vests — distributes grants nationwide, and has funded $173,000 in insurance premiums since 2016. In 2021 alone, it has awarded this grant to units across the country, from Alaska to Texas. 

Vested Interest founder and president Sandy Marcal said that when dogs get injured in the line of duty, they can require physical therapy, water therapy, chiropractics and even expensive surgeries. 

“Many departments don’t have the funding to cover those things,” Marcal said. “We’re grateful we can do that for these dogs that do so much for their communities.”

And Jazz is grateful he can sniff a little more soundly.

Marcal encouraged interested, qualifying departments to apply on the Vested Interest in K-9s website.

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