Two police dogs with local law enforcement agencies will now be able to do their jobs more safely, thanks to a donation from the Georgia Police K9 Foundation.

Recently, the foundation, through the generosity of Susan Mack and the Prissy and Andy Armstrong Trust, donated a pair of LOF K9 StreetFighter vests to law enforcement agencies in Cherokee County, with one going to K9 Volt of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and the other for K9 Dugan of the Woodstock Police Department.

“We are grateful to the Georgia Police K9 Foundation for their donation of an LOF StreetFighter harness for K9 Dugan,” Woodstock Police Department Chief Calvin Moss said. “The harness is lightweight and helps to regulate his body heat while also providing protection to Dugan. We appreciate the Georgia Police K9 Foundation for this generous donation to our four-legged officer.”

Cherokee Sheriff’s Office Director of Communications Capt. Jay Baker added, “We are very grateful for the donation and thankful to the Georgia Police K9 Foundation for considering our K9 Unit when identifying agencies who would benefit from a new K9 vest.”

Baker added that Volt was very happy with his new equipment, as the vest was fitted specifically for him and is black, which is his favorite color.

The StreetFighter vests donated to the agencies have a soft body armor constructed to be lightweight, which helps keep the K9 units from becoming exhausted and overheated from heavier vests. The vest’s fabric helps effectively regulate the K9’s body temperature, keeping them comfortable and cool, yet well protected throughout their entire shift. The vests are designed to be bullet resistant, while effectively shielding the K9’s vital organs during incidents that may require the dog to track and even detain a fleeing suspect before human officers can take full control of the situation. According to a press release from the foundation, the organization is extremely proud to help keep these K9 units safe as they carry out their mission.

“Chances are that everyone’s life has been impacted by a K9 in some manner throughout their life and they do not even realize it,” the press release said. “Before attending sporting events, concerts or other large functions, explosive detection K9s sweep the areas to ensure a safer environment for those in attendance. K9s are important in communities by locating/detecting illegal narcotics, as well as engaging in the most dangerous settings while dealing with the most violent offenders without hesitation. We ask these four-legged heroes to face situations most people would not. Not only do law enforcement K9s assist by enforcing the laws, but also assist with locating a missing child or elderly person.”

Although providing law enforcement agencies with protective vests for K9 units is a key part of the Georgia Police K9 Foundation’s mission, it is only one portion of what the organization does for law enforcement agencies throughout the state. A non-profit, all volunteer organization, the foundation works to raise a greater awareness of the valuable contributions K9 units make to law enforcement. At the same time, the organization seeks to protect as many of Georgia’s police dogs as possible by providing K9 units with safety equipment such as bulletproof vests, heat alarm systems and Naxalone (Narcan kits) in the event a police dog comes in direct contact with opioids in the line of duty.

“In certain situations, the K9 ballistic vest is just as valuable to the K9 as the vests our deputies wear every day,” Baker said. “Our police K9s, without hesitation, will enter an extremely dangerous situation when instructed to by a deputy. We want them to have the same protections afforded a deputy sheriff. We don’t view our police K9s simply as a tool; they are partners to their K9 handlers, and their safety is paramount.”

Lastly, when a police dog retires from the force and is adopted by its handler, the foundation provides support in the form of food and medical care in the absence of state or local retirement benefits for the dog.

For those interested in supporting the Georgia Police K9 Foundation in its mission to keep police dogs safe in their line of work, additional information, including how to donate, can be found on the foundation’s website at www.gpk9f.org. Information can also be found on the Georgia Police K9 Foundation Facebook and Instagram feeds. Checks can be mailed to Georgia Police K9 Foundation, 28 East Main St., Statesboro, GA, 30458.

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