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Karen B. London
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Bulletproof Vests For Dogs
A third-grader’s idea saves lives
Kiko displays his skills during a demonstration

 

My morning ritual involves Grape Nuts cereal, a cup of tea, and an assessment of the day’s possibilities based on the cover story in my local paper, The Arizona Daily Sun. If the cover story is good news, charming, funny or positive in any way, I consider it a good omen for the day. If it is bad news, depressing, dull, or a downer for any other reason, I take immediate action by temporarily abandoning my quest for news of the world and turning to the sports page instead.
 
Last week, a story about a police dog who received a bulletproof vest through Project Police K-9 started my day in a better way than any front page story in the last year. The cheer this brought to my morning went way beyond the obvious plus that the cover story had a canine slant.
 
Project Police K-9 is a non-profit organization whose goal is to ensure that all of Arizona’s police dogs have stab proof and bulletproof vests. Since each of these lifesaving pieces of equipment costs $825, they are beyond the budgets of many law enforcement agencies. And yet any officer will tell you that the dogs are at risk of serious and even fatal injuries from knives and guns just as their human partners are.
 
This organization was started by Michael Valdez, who was inspired as a third-grader by a story of a police dog names Dax who was shot and killed in the line of duty. His teacher asked who in the class would be willing to call the Tucson Police Department to inquire about the possibility of donating a bulletproof vest for other canines serving in the force. He raised his hand to volunteer.
 
That was over a decade and 167 vests ago, with the most recent recipient being Kiko, a dog who works with the Coconino County Sheriff Department in Northern Arizona. Valdez is currently raising money for a vest for Viktor, the other police dog in that department.
 
Inspiring teachers who motivate kids, charitable young people taking action to save lives, a love for and an appreciation of dogs—can you see why this story was such a great start to my morning?
 
 

 

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

 

Photo by Josh Biggs, Arizona Daily Sun

 

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