POLICE DOGS AND KEVLAR VESTS
In 1999, a 4-year-old German Shepherd police dog by the name of Solo was sent to apprehend an armed robbery suspect and was shot in the eye and killed. Bagpipes played Amazing Grace at his funeral which was attended by more than 1,000 mourners. An American flag was draped over his casket. When print and television media outlets covered the story, the armored dog phenomenon began.
To name a few, The Department of Homeland Security granted Columbus, Ohio $7,348 to purchase eleven bulletproof vests for their dogs. Breeders Dog Food company promised to give vests to 100 California dogs. Wal-Marts in Arizona have also raised money to armor their community k9s. Citizens all over the United States have donated funds to vest K9s in their local police departments, and Associated Humane Societies, Inc. in Newark, N. J. has a program called Vest-a-Dog.
In Orange Park, Florida, members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the local VFW post raised $1,000 so that Santos, their local police dog, could feel safe in a kevlar vest. The dog’s handler said Santos hadn’t actually used the vest in the past year, as it restricts his movements and distracts him from finding marijuana.
Joan Hess of the United States Police Canine Association, which is an association of 3,000 canine handlers says, “It’s a great PR thing. We lose more dogs to heat exhaustion than to actual killing. Even if the vests can offer some protection, they are often too impractical for the dogs to wear. Because the vests weigh so much, the dogs rarely wear them inside patrol cars. They make the dogs uncomfortably warm. ” Hess’ group urges people to raise money for “hot dog box” containers, which are rigged to the police car, have temperature indicators and can pop doors in case of emergencies. The K9 Hot-n Pop pro sells for around $849.00 .