Police Dogs Gifted Bulletproof Vests
Dogs are finally getting equal protection as law enforcement officers, thanks to a Groupon account.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Rocco, a Pittsburgh police dog, was stabbed by a criminal named John Rush in 2014. Police officer Phil Lerza, who owned and loved Rocco, spotted Rush in Lawrenceville while there was a warrant out for his arrest. Lerza pursued Rush on foot, and Rush ended up hiding in the basement while Lerza called for back up. Other armedpolice officers showed up and together they informed Rush that he needed to come out or they would send in Rocco to find him. The dog was released downstairs and sadly stabbed by Rush, who police officers arrested right after. However, it was too late for beloved Rocco - he passed away two days later.
Honoring a friend
Now, Rocco's memory is being honored by a nationwide Groupon account that raised more than $335,000 to help purchase protection for dogs in law enforcement. Groupon is a social website where people can find discounts for various activities or items, in this case, dog vests. According to news station WLWT5, the vests are bulletproof and stab-resistant. The money was raised by Vested Interest in K9s and Groupon Grassroots, which encouraged people to donate to the good cause. With the money, approximately 350 dogs will get these vests.
Some police dogs have already gotten them, including Cincinnati police dogs Sniper and Kodi, who received their new vests on August 18. They are not the only ones. Another fundraiser in San Diego is also providing police dogs with these needed vests. CBS 8 in San Diego notes the National Police dogs Marko and Duke based in San Diego also got vests on the same day, after local community members pitched in to give them the vests they need in the line of duty. Thanks to locals, this police department raised around $10,000 to buy three vests.
Clearly, these vests are not your average consumer products. On average, to buy a regular canine protection vest costs around $200. However, to buy a bullet- and stab-proof vest, like the ones Sniper, Kodi, Marko and Duke got, will take a serious dent out of your wallet.
Project Paws Alive, a company that designs canine vests out of the same Kevlar material used in human ballistic vests, is trying to make these vests more accessible to protect police canines. The company customizes each vest they make to perfectly fit the dog's body type. On average, these vests weigh around 4 pounds and will protect all of the dog's organs comfortably. They can protect dogs from bullets, stab wounds, explosions and blunt force trauma. Each vest costs $1,400 to make and it may be difficult for police units to afford these protective vests. Instead, the company only accepts donations that can help pay for dogs to get new vests nationwide.
The Baltimore Sun notes that since 1965, approximately 29 police dogs have been killed by friendly fire, meaning they were accidentally shot by someone on the police force. About 110 dogs have been shot by criminal suspects and 25 have been fatally stabbed. Hopefully, as these ballistic canine vests grow in popularity, the number of police dogs injured and killed on duty will begin to decrease.