Photos courtesy of Hingham Police
Following an expensive surgery to repair a torn ACL, Hingham’s police dog will be out of commission for nearly three months, all while the department searches for a way to fund the costly procedure.
Hingham’s seven-year-old police dog, Axel, had been limping off and on for a month after injuring himself during training, said owner Officer James Foss. Though the vet initially recommended rest to see if the injury would get better on its own, things only got worse.
“A lot of times these things heal on their own, but with a larger dog things tend to not heal on their own,” Foss said of his German Shepherd.
Foss eventually made the decision to have surgery performed on Axel, a $3,300 procedure the officer would have to pay himself.
“There’s no budget [for the canine program] in the Hingham Police Budget, for food or for medical care,” explained Sgt. Steven Dearth. “What we rely on is donations. Dog supporters, people who support the canine program, we get checks throughout the year and it goes into a special account.”
The public has always been very generous, Dearth said, yet medical costs add up. Though the account has $1,000 in it, it hasn’t been enough to cover the recent expenses for the dog.
“The dog is part of the Police Department, part of the community. A lot of people were concerned the dog was hurt, and on our end, we don’t have the funds to pay for the surgery,” Dearth said.
Despite the unexpected burden on his own finances, Foss said he wasn’t overly concerned about the cost.
“I’ve always been able to count on [the public],” Foss said.
In the past, Linden Ponds donated $5,000 to purchase the dog for the program. Their contributions since then, along with help from civic organizations in town, private businesses, and individual donations have helped support Axel and his mission.
“All donations go into medical care and food for the dog,” Foss said.
What Foss is mostly concerned about is the well being of his police partner.
“He’s progressing really well,” Foss said. “I think he’s doing really well. Putting pressure down on the foot. He wants to run but he can’t. But he’s doing well.”
After the 10-week recovery time passes, Foss says he will bring Axel back to the vet for another X-ray. If that looks good, Axel can start walking and running again.
“I don’t see any problem with him coming back. It's just a matter of waiting,” Foss said.
In the meantime, canine departments in Hull, Cohasset, Weymouth, and Scituate will cover for Hingham in the event of an emergency.
As for Foss working without his partner, it has been weird, he said.
“It’s very, very strange,” he said. “I’ve only worked four shifts without him. As I walk out of the house, he has to wear an e-collar, a cone that goes around his head, he has that on, and he just puts his head down.”
Foss said luckily he’s on vacation for the next two weeks and won’t have to abandon Axel anytime soon.
“I have two weeks where I don’t have to work without him. I can stay,” he said.
To donate to the Hingham Canine Fund, checks can be sent to the Hingham Police Department, attention Hingham Police Canine Fund. For updates on Axel, visit Hingham Police Department’s twitter page.