BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Police K9s are getting an extra layer of protection. They were fitted for new, bullet-proof vets, which will protect them while they’re on duty.
The K9s have vests now, but they’re old and cumbersome. Lt. Elizabeth Baker said they look like turtle shells on the dog’s backs. But the new ones will be so comfortable, they’re meant to feel like a second skin.
“The quote is, ‘send us, we’ll go,'” Lt. Elizabeth Baker said, with the Buffalo Police Department K9 unit. “And they don’t know, but they love their work, they love their job.”
Lt. Baker said her K9 Paddy is a family member; a companion. As the duo runs the agility course outside, Emily Grey is inside measuring the dogs for their new vests. Grey came to Buffalo from an organization called, ‘Spikes K9 Fund,’ in Virginia Beach. The Fund provides custom ballistic vests for K9s across the country. Grey used a template to measure each dog, making sure the finished product is a perfect fit.
Each vest will protect against handguns and knives.
“They’re actually the only vests that have documented saves,” Grey said. “There were a couple dogs in Washington that were shot with a .40 and they survived, so we feel confident that we’re giving the dogs the best protection that there is.”
All six K9s in the BPD K9 unit will get one, including Shield, Lt. Craig Lehner’s former companion. Lehner will also get one, the dog named after the fallen hero.
In all, the vests will cost $15,000.
“There are no words… It’s very emotional and very, very important to me,” Dawn Parana said.
Dawn Parana and Spikes K9 Fund are the reason this is all happening. She is the hospital administrator at City Creatures Animal Hospital. Parana originally offered to care for the K9s, and then she realized they didn’t have the best protection in the field, so she reached out to Spikes K9 Fund, which paid for most of the vests.
“My whole family is law enforcement, I’m sure passionate about it,” she said.
“We just had an officer called out last night for a burglary in process,” Lt. Baker said. “One of the suspects was in custody and the officers couldn’t clear the house themselves and this dog goes in with the handler, and it’s in front. We don’t know if that dog could get stabbed, shot, punched, and it’s nice, added protection for the handler and the community.”
The vests will be done in about three or four weeks. And just like their handlers, the dogs will wear them the entire time they’re on the job. The vests will be waterproof, breathable, and will give everyone a piece of mind.
City Creatures Animal Hospital is also organizing a hockey game at HARBORCENTER on February 29, 2020. The game will feature Buffalo police officers versus Buffalo firefighters. All the proceeds from the game will go toward getting a new K9 to work an overnight shift, which the department doesn’t currently have.
If you would like to donate to the cause, click here.