County K-9s are sporting new vests

NEW CUMBERLAND – Four new bulletproof vests for Hancock County’s sheriff’s K-9s will mean better protection for the protectors.

The sheriff’s department recently acquired the vests through two nonprofit organizations – Vested Interest in K-9s Inc., of East Taunton, Mass., and Kevlar for K9s, of Denver, Colo. – at no cost to the county, said sheriff’s Deputy 1st Class Scott Little, supervisor of the Hancock County K-9 Unit.

Little said the vests, which provide ballistics and stab protection for the dogs, normally cost $2,500 each.

“We needed them for all four of our dogs. They’re an extremely important tool to protect the dogs and keep them safe,” Little said.

Three of the vests were obtained from Vested Interest through a Petco Foundation grant and were measured specifically for the dogs: Christina, assigned to Little; Freddy, assigned to Deputy Pat Hoder; and Jesy, assigned to Lt. Chuck Stanley. Odin, assigned to Deputy Eric Cline, will wear the Kevlar vest.

All four German shepherds recently were recertified when Hancock County hosted the annual state seminar of the West Virginia Police Canine Association.

Little said the vests were needed because the sheriff’s department was down to two, and those were expired. The normal lifespan for a vest is four to five years, he said.

Although police dogs train with the vests, they do not always wear them. The vests are hot in the summertime, can restrict movement and are only for certain purposes, he said.

“(They’re for) any type of SWAT situation that the dogs are used in, or when you may have a suspect in a building who could be armed,” Little said.