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Saturday June 12th

Police K-9s are officers too, so this organization helps outfit them for the role

Carrboro Police Department K-9 Turbo.
Buy Photos Carrboro Police Department K-9 Turbo.

CLARIFICATION: Vested Interest in K9s gave the Carrboro Police Department a grant of body armor. A previous version of the article said the Carrboro Police was given a charitable donation. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

The Carrboro Police Department announced the reception of a grant of protective body armor for the dogs in their K-9 unit on Wednesday.

K-9s Titus, Blitz and Turbo will receive vests that provide them protection from both bullets and stabs. The three vests will be embroidered with “In memory of Officer Jordan Sheldon, Mooresville, NC- EOW 5/4/19," to honor a K-9 officer with the nearby Mooresville Police Department who was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 4.

The vests are valued at up to $2,283 each.

The grant was given by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit which helps to provide funding for a variety of K-9 services through grants, contributions and fundraising. These services include ballistic vests, health insurance premiums, K-9 opioid reversal kits and first aid equipment. The nonprofit has even donated a fully equipped SUV for a K-9 unit, said Sandy Marcal founder and president of Vested Interest in K9s .

“The dogs are sworn-in officers, so they need the same protection as their human counterparts because they are working in a potentially dangerous environment on a regular basis,” Marcal said. 

Vested Interest in K-9s has provided 3,400 ballistic vests at a value of $5.7 million, according to a press release. 

Captain Chris Atack of the Carrboro Police Department said the officer in charge of the K-9 unit, Joseph Glenn, found the grant online and applied for it. Atack said that prior to the grant, vest protection for the department’s K-9 units had not been considered for funding. 

“I think this was just something that wasn’t on our radar financially, and would’ve been way down the line in terms of priority,” Atack said. “So it’s really a great thing that this company was able to donate to us.” 

Atack said although the Carrboro Police Department’s K-9 unit is small with only three dogs, they are deployed often, which makes vests like these useful to have.

“We use our dogs a lot," Atack said. "In fiscal year 2018, we used them about 120 times. So far this calendar year, we are up to 46 [uses]."

Atack said the Carrboro Police Department K-9 unit assists with everything from lost objects to apprehending suspects. 

Officer Lori McLamb, who is partnered with K-9 Blitz, said that not only are the vests a great protective measure, but also help serve as a cue to the dogs that they are on duty when the vests are on. 

She also said that the vests are important because police K-9s are often utilized in high-risk situations where sending an officer might be too risky.

“You read about every day, suspects will fight dogs; they don’t have any issue with shooting or stabbing them, and (police dogs) getting hurt all the time,” McLamb said. “So any additional protection we can give them is great, it’s beneficial.”

McLamb said that, in addition, the vests come with other useful features such as handles for picking the dogs up if necessary. 

She said that she was very happy working with Vested Interest in K9s.

“They’ve been very responsive, very easy to work with,” McLamb said. “We got selected a lot quicker than we thought we would, so we’re pleased, and can’t wait to get the dogs outfitted.”

Atack said the vests are expected to arrive in six to eight weeks. Vested Interest in K9s relies on contributions and fundraising, and accepts donations online.

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