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Woman donates K9 vests to protect police dogs

By KENDRA PEEK
kendra.peek@amnews.com

Human police officers aren’t the only ones who face danger on the job — eight dogs were killed by gunfire in the U.S. in 2015 while performing their duties as police K9s.

Ballistics vests can help protect K9s. But vests are expensive and law enforcement agencies cannot always afford them, Boyle County Sheriff Derek Robbins said.

But that’s not a problem for his office — or the Danville Police Department — anymore, as funding for K9 vests has been donated.

Robbins said area resident Diane Masden has paid for multiple K9 ballistics vests, including two K9 vests for the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office and one vest for the Danville Police Department. The vests arrived last week for K9 Djanco and K9 NiKi.

K9 Djanco is handled by Robbins and is a 9-year-old tan Belgian malinois, trained in various types of searches, including narcotics, tracking and apprehension. K9 NiKi is handled by Deputy Casey McCoy and is a 5-year-old black Belgian malinois, trained specifically in narcotics location.

The vests are designed for Belgian malinois, but can be adjusted if the department were to get other dogs in the future.

Robbins said they are grateful to have the vests, but hope they never get put to the test.

“I hope it expires and we never have to use it,” Robbins said.

It will take a little time for the dogs to get used to wearing them, he said.

Djanco tried his on Tuesday, although Robbins kept the session short, due to the extreme heat.

That’s one of the biggest concerns for K9 handlers — the heat has killed more police dogs than bullets have, with 11 K9 deaths due to heat exhaustion in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page website.

That’s why the Boyle County Sheriff’s Department has various types of monitors to maintain a temperature inside the car for the dogs and to ensure that the cooling units are fully functioning.

“We have done everything we can to make sure our dogs are safe,” Robbins said. “Now we just have to use common sense when we deploy them.”

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.