Dartmouth Veterinarian Lovingly Remembered on Police K-9’s New Vest
The legacy of a Dartmouth veterinarian is being remembered with a special K-9 vest that will protect four-legged law enforcers from guns and knives.
The story begins with Dartmouth native Nathan Dufault, a sergeant of the K-9 Division with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police out of Boston. His partner: Belle, a 2-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer.
Belle is certified through the American Police K-9 Association in narcotics detection and tracking and trailing. In simpler terms, her job is to find drugs and missing people. Back in April 2021, Dufault was assigned to Belle as her caretaker and partner and she is now part of the sergeant's family.
Dufault has always brought his dogs to Chase Farm Veterinary Hospital on Ventura Drive in Dartmouth. Over time, he grew close to Dr. Nicole Rickard, who passed away unexpectedly in 2020.
Coincidentally, a special bullet- and stab-resistant vest is being donated to Belle in Rickard's memory.
"It means a lot to me, not only because Chase Farm is my personal vet office, but also because I knew Dr. Rickard well," Dufault said. "She was always there to help, one of the sweetest people I've ever met. She didn't do it for the money, she did it for the animals, and she loved her job. When I found it was for her and that the vest was sponsored in memory of her, it couldn't be more fitting."
A donation in Rickard's name funded the majority of the $2,200 vest.
"A woman named Sandy Marcal reached out to me from Vested Interest in K9s," Dufault said, "It was because of her efforts that Bell received one of the donated vests."
To be equipped with a vest, a K-9 must be a minimum of 20 months.
Dufault said most police dogs are vested through one of two organizations. Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog or Vested Interest in K9s out of Taunton. Vested Interest in K9s provides vests and grants to police agencies to vest their dogs and also provides K-9-friendly Narcan, first-aid kits, and medical insurance.
In November and December, Dufault and Belle assisted the Fall River Fire Department with two classes on medical treatment and transport of police K-9s via ambulance. The partners go elsewhere, too.
"We work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs which covers the V.A. Boston Police, but we operate out of Brockton," Dufault said. "We cover everywhere from the Bourne National Cemetery to Boston to Fort Devens. We have three hospitals that we're responsible for, five outpatient clinics, two national cemeteries, and buildings/offices throughout the area that all support the Veteran's Health Association."
Belle was sized for her vest five to six weeks ago and her custom-made vest just arrived in time for the new year. Wherever she goes, whenever she has her vest on, she'll keep the memory of Rickard alive and well.