HAMPDEN, Maine — Ten-year-old Samantha Quesnel, a fifth-grade student attending George B. Weatherbee School, was honored Wednesday along with her mother and father for donating enough money to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office to purchase a ballistic vest for Dozer, a German Shepherd in the K9 Unit.
The Quesnels were officially recognized for their charity during a gathering at the Weatherbee school. On hand to present the family with an official plaque of recognition were Sheriff Glenn Ross, Chief Deputy Troy J. Morton, Deputy Ryan Allen and, of course, Dozer.
“We had a German Shepherd. She was with us for 12 years, and we had to put her down last August, so we’re partial to German Shepherds,” Samantha’s father, John Quesnel, said.
“We didn’t want to get another one right away, but we wanted to do what we could for a canine,” he said.
When the family was discussing what to do, Samantha came up with an idea: The Quesnels would make custom bracelets and sell them for $3 apiece until they made enough money to buy a bulletproof ballistic vest for a police dog.
“[It's important because] they need to be protected,” Samantha said. “We called the police department, but they didn’t need [a canine ballistic vest]. So we called the [Sheriff's Department], and they said they needed one.”
Between January 2 and January 25, the family managed to make and sell more than 400 bracelets, amassing a total of $1,200. Many of these bracelets were custom made for various people in and around the Hampden community. The bracelets often featured school or sports team colors.
“We did this all together as a family, and we did custom orders and worked together as a team,” Samantha’s mother, Bonnie Quesnel, said. “We expected [it to take] a couple of months, and it took three weeks to reach our goal.”
Deputy Allen, who works with and owns Dozer, was particularly thankful for the Quesnels’ donation.
“He’s worth a lot of money to the police, but he’s also worth a lot to me. He’s my personal dog. He goes home with me every day, he eats my food, he sleeps on my couch,” Allen said.
The Samantha’s parents are very proud of their daughter and hope to get another dog some day.
“We’re hoping this will get us back into owning a dog, and hopefully we’ll own a German Shepherd again, ” John Quesnel said.