Belchertown Police introduces Oliver, their new comfort dog

There’s a furry new addition to the Belchertown Police Department.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 2:36 PM EDT
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BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – There’s a furry new addition to the Belchertown Police Department.

“It really opens the line of communication between community and police,” said Belchertown Police Officer Valerie Austin.

Meet Oliver. The 10-week-old Labrador retriever will now serve as the Belchertown Police Department’s new comfort dog.

“We go on tough calls. It’s always nice to come back and kind of destress. We kind of forget about what we just did,” said Belchertown Police Officer Vinnie Daponte.

Austin, his handler, said that even though the puppy has only been with the department a short time, he’s already doing great things.

“We actually had an opportunity to work with him the first time a couple days ago and the interview went completely different just having him in the room,” Austin explained.

Austin told Western Mass News that comfort dogs have been proven to help lower blood pressure and anxiety. She added that even though he’s small, Oliver is already helping police with serious cases like trauma and assault.

“Domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims, they come in and, obviously, there already kind of in distress. Having him there, I feel, like takes their mind off of what’s been going on,” Daponte noted.

Not only is Oliver loved within the department, but he’s also received an outpouring of love and support from the community.

“The Belchertown Animal Relief Committee, BARC, has offered to pay for his pet insurance so that’s fantastic and we’ve had great community response just with the community finding out that he’s here,” Austin noted.

Austin told us the department will also be holding events for Oliver to help raise money for his needs and training.

“We do have pickleball tournament coming up at the end of September that’s going to help fundraise for him,” Austin said.

Oliver even has his own Facebook page where members of the community can follow his latest information and news. Donations to help with Oliver’s training can be made out to and dropped off at the Belchertown Police Department.

If anyone would like to make a donation, you can call 413-323-6685 or email