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Calif. event raises money to armor up K-9s

Whether the bad guys are hiding in the bushes or an abandoned building, sometimes the best way to root them out is to bring in your K-9 team. Those assets are invaluable in many ways, not the least of which is that they’re a living, breathing, member of the department, and as such, need to be protected. However, all too often they hit the streets without body armor, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Thanks to a fundraising effort that took place July 18-19, 2009 throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, a lot of K-9s throughout the area will get body armor to help them stay safe on the streets.

The event was presented as a partnership between Western States Police Canine Association, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “promote professionalism and safety for all working police K-9 teams,” and San Francisco Bay Area pet food and supplies retailer Pet Food Express.

Mike Murray, Director of Community Relations for Pet Food Express, tells PoliceOne that the fundraiser has raised some $65,000 to be spent on veterinary services and body armor for K-9s throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. All 34 stores in the regional retail chain participated in the event, and according to Murray, there was a friendly competition between stores to see which could raise the most money.

Murray says that one of the MVPs of the day’s events was a volunteer named Louise Tully, who helped to organize on-site demonstrations by about 50 K-9 teams at various store locations. Check out the tactical tip PoliceOne got from Officer Michelle Liddicoet during our visit to the Market Street store in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco.

Michael Levy, a former police dog trainer and founder of the regional retail chain said that during the fundraising effort, one couple alone donated enough money for the purchase of one vest.

One of the participants on hand at the San Francisco PoliceOne visited was Suzanne Saunders of K-9 Armor, a non-profit organization that facilitates the purchase of body armor for police dogs. Started in September 2003 in partnership with Marin County Sheriff's Department, Saunders’ organization works to “provide protection to the brave law enforcement dogs of California.”

Saunders, who works as a Marin County EMT, says that she has established a relationship with Sierra Police Supply Company through which she is able to obtain custom-fit, type III-A K-9 Point Blank Body Armor for about $750. Agencies wishing to take advantage of this opportunity can put their K-9 on a list, and every time the organization raises the sufficient funds, armor is purchased for the next dog on the list.

To make a donation to help Suzanne in her drive to vest up all Police K-9s in her area, simply click here. Further information about WSPCA is available here. Visit the Pet Food Express Web site by clicking here.

Check out BLUtube for video of PoliceOne’s visit to the event.

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