GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County 4-H club is raising money in the attempts of outfitting local police dogs with protective vests to prevent injuries on the job.
“Pennies for Protection” is an effort endorsed by the K-9 Korps 4-H Club of Gallia County. According to group advisor Brea Elliot, the group hopes to raise money to purchase bulletproof and stab proof vests for the canine officers of local police departments.
“We’re a dog 4-H club,” said Elliot. “We train dogs and learn about the specifics, where they originate and other details. Basically, your 4-H project is building a relationship with your dog.”
The organization has been working on raising money for the vests over the course of the last year.
According to statistics gathered by Elliot, in 2015, there have currently been 116 police canine killings nationally. Of those, 36 were gun shots, 34 were knife or wounds inflicted by things like broken bottles, and 46 deaths were caused by automobiles driving into dogs.
“It’s shocking how many dogs are killed even with (protective) vests,” Elliot said.
Elliot mentioned that in recent years, a Gallia County police canine named Jeck was stabbed in the line of service. He survived but was retired shortly after the incident.
“We’re working with the Ohio chapter of Vesting America’s Police Canines,” Elliot said. “They actually get these vests at a discounted price to help get the vests on these dogs. They’re about $2,000 each if you’re buying them out of pocket. They do have an expiration date that’s around two or three years.”
The group would first like to outfit Gallia County Sheriff’s Office canine Argo. They are roughly $200 short of their $2,000 goal. After Argo is outfitted, the group will continue trying to raise money to outfit other local agency animals.
“We have a bank account at Ohio Valley Bank if people would like to make donations,” Elliot said.
Elliot said that eight children are currently in the K-9 Korps. The group serves children from the ages of eight to 18. The oldest member is currently 16.
The group anticipates it will be at the Rural King store in Gallipolis to take donations and wrap presents for shoppers participating in Christmas gift gathering.
Police often use dogs for drug searches, suspect apprehension and explosive detection units. The animals are often meant to help save human lives. Specialized training for police canines can be an investment of several thousands of dollars.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.