Local News

Cumberland County Wants To Buy Bulletproof Vests For Canine Cops

Posted January 13, 2000

— Cumberland County is rallying behind its four-legged crime fighters. There is a big fund-raising campaign under way to help buy bulletproof vests for canine cops.

Victoria Bartch, a K-9 deputy for Cumberland County, puts on her bulletproof vest before every shift. She thinks her canine partner, Ella, should wear one as well.

"She's sent into vacant buildings and woods for the bad guys," Bartch said. "Sometimes the bad guys are armed, and she has nothing to protect her."

She and other canine cops face the same dangers as officers, and dogs with a badge are so loyal to their handlers, they have no fear.

In at least three other states, canine cops have beenkilled in the line of duty. None of the dogs were wearing body armor.

That is what concerns animal lover Grace Allen. Allen is leading the charge to raise money to buy bulletproof vests for all 19 city and county police dogs. So far, they have raised $1,200 which is only enough to buy two vests.

"Someone would shoot a dog much quicker than they'd shoot a human," Allen said. "I think it's really important that they be protected."

The vests are a way to protect the average $10,000 investment in each dog. Handlers like Don Corrigan say a well-outfitted dog can enhance their safety by offering them peace of mind on the job.

"We do love them like our children, but at the same time, they are law enforcement officers, and they should be afforded the same opportunity for protection," Corrigan said.

The next fund-raiser for bulletproof vests will begin next week. Seventeen Burger Kings in the Fayetteville area will donate a percentage of profits from the next four Wednesdays.

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