The excitement for Zira, a K-9 and the newest member of the New Canaan Police force, was unmatched Wednesday night. In the crowd, seven-year-old Henry Benton could hardly mask his enthusiasm when he laid his eyes on Zira, the department's new K-9 officer. "She's really cute," Henry said at New Canaan High School. "She looks like she'll do a great job of hearing and smelling things."
Henry feels especially proud because his contributions helped the New Canaan Police add Zira to the department. Zira was officially sworn in Thursday as a member of the force in a ceremony at the high school, although she's been at work since November with her human partner, Officer Mike McFadden.
Henry loaned his helping hands last year, selling cookies and lemonade and asking for collections. In all, he raised $348.01, a nice chunk of the $74,000 the police department received in community contributions to complement the $12,000 grant the department received. The money will help pay for many of Zira's expenses, said Capt. Leon Krolikowski. Zira has assisted the New Canaan Police in four drug-related arrests already.
Henry, accompanied by his mother, Jayne, and 2-year-old brother Bradford, took several pictures of Zira during a brief demonstration after the swearing in. He later found out that Zira heeds commands from McFadden in German, which he finds amazing given that Zira will mostly be around English speakers.
Henry says he contributed because he wanted to help the police and because of his love for animals. His family owns a dog, a hamster and several fish. "I think it's fun" to help, he said. "She's cute for a police dog."
Krolikowski said the donations from Henry and others show that the police department's work is appreciated and that there are caring people in New Canaan. "We got donations from $10 to $5,000," he said. "We received donations from hundreds of people."
As for Henry's contributions specifically, Krolikowski smiled. "That's awesome," the captain said.
Do you think Zira is a necessary addition to the force? Leave a comment below.