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Fifth grader helps four-legged police officer

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Fifth grader helps four-legged police officer photo courtesy: Bonnie Quesnel

HAMPDEN - A member of the Penobscot County Sheriff's Department is carrying around some extra protection these days thanks to the generosity of a Hampden fifth grader. Samantha Quesnel raised over $1,000 in less than a month to help purchase a bullet proof vest for the department's K9 officer, Dozer.

"He's a search and article dog. He doesn't look for drugs or cadavers. He helps solve cases like if someone threw a gun out the window, when he finds it, he'll sit on it and his reward is this toy he pulls on. That's when the puppy really comes out in him," explained Bonnie Quesnel, Samantha's mother. "He is a gorgeous dog and he's such a goof ball that you forget even though he's a working dog, he's still a dog."

After meeting the 2-year-old black German Shepherd, the Quesnel family came up with the idea of making and selling Paracord bracelets with all the proceeds going towards Dozer's bullet proof vest. Bonnie purchased the necessary buckles and cord, while Samantha made boxes with Dozer's picture and a flyer explaining what the family was looking to accomplish. Together they made 150 bracelets before Samantha sought out area businesses where she could distribute the boxes and information.

"At school she went up to her principal and explained what we were doing. She's a very shy and quiet person and having the experience of knowing how to look people in the eye [was important]," said Bonnie. "This wasn't just about the dog, it was about helping our daughter grow."

Before long the orders started rolling in and so did the funds.

"A lot of people asked for custom bracelets like Bangor colors and Brewer colors," said Samantha.

The Quesnels also sold lots of pink, camouflage and Patriots-colored bracelets.

"I got a letter from a teacher in Belfast whose dad was a police officer. She said she likes to give little gifts at the end of the school year and she asked us for bracelets in various kid sizes," explained Bonnie.

"By the time we finished selling them at Mom and Dad's work, we already raised more than enough money," said Samantha.

"It wasn't just people buying them, it was people helping us reach our goal," said Bonnie.

The Quesnels sold over 400 bracelets in 24 days and raised close to $1,300 which they delivered by check to the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office. Last month, officers stopped by the Weatherbee School to present Samantha with a plague for all her hard work.

"It was neat seeing her get the plague," said Bonnie. "I think she has gotten more confident talking to people and looking them in the eye [through this experience] and I think it has strengthened our family."


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