HOLLYWOOD, Ala. (WHNT) — Police wear protective vests, so why not police dogs?
Three-year-old tracking labrador Abi will soon have a bulletproof vest just like her handler and partner, Hollywood Police Chief Jason Hepler.
A non-profit group in Massachusetts called Vested Interest in K9s is providing the $1,006 vest, which is paid for by donations through Groupon, a deal of the day website that primarily sells discounted gift certificates.
However, through this particular deal, people are not buying something for themselves or friends, but instead making a $10 donation to Vested Interest to provide Kevlar dog vests.
“Typically with a police dog, aside from getting hit by a car, their biggest threat is they’re going to be stabbed,” Chief Hepler said.
“A lot of people carry a knife, so if the dog is biting them or anything like that, [they could] get stabbed. The vest protects the dog’s entire torso and it’s stabproof and bulletproof.”
Hepler said he always wanted the protective gear for Abi, but it’s too expensive.
He was thrilled when Vested Interest for K9s contacted him on Facebook.
“We had posted some pictures of Abi on our police department’s Facebook page, and a woman contacted us…and asked if I would post their link on our page and try to get the word out so they could get some donations,” Hepler said.
The Groupon initial goal was 101 donations of $10 each to raise enough for one vest.
Several weeks later, the total is over $50,000, enough for 50 vests.
Vested Interest selected Abi and the Hollywood Police Department as the 22nd recipient.
“She didn’t choose to do this work, it was kind of thrust upon her,” Hepler said.
“She had the ability and she’s good at it, and she also didn’t choose to be born a dog. Her life’s no less valuable than mine, to her, and so we need to protect her.”
The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in Anniston also received a vest for their K9, Robbie.
Hepler said he knows of ten other Alabama police departments on the waiting list for vest, hoping there will be sponsors through Vested Interest.
The Groupon fundraiser runs through 11 p.m. Wednesday, January 9.