Greenfield’s police K-9s now have bulletproof vests, thanks to the Ohio Chapter of Vesting America’s Police K-9s, part of a national group that originated in 2014 in Utah.
According to the group’s Facebook page, Greenfield Police Department K-9 Chica and K-9 Rony are the first in the state to receive vests from the group’s Ohio chapter and it was all accomplished through donations.
The Dayton-based Ohio Chapter of Vesting America’s Police K-9s mission, as listed on its Facebook page, “is to provide bulletproof and stab resistant vests to Ohio’s K-9s at no charge.”
Candace Jacks, who is with the Ohio chapter, traveled to Greenfield on Saturday to deliver the vests and to meet the dogs. She was not available on Monday for comment.
K-9 Chica hails from the Netherlands. The 7-year-old Belgian Malinois has served with the GPD for over four years and has been with handler patrolman Shawn Shanks for the last year.
K-9 Rony is a 3-year-old Czechoslovakian shepherd. He joined the department in June 2015 and is handled by Sgt. Jeremiah Oyer, who is currently GPD’s officer in charge.
As previously reported, both dogs are certified in narcotics, tracking, and article searches.
According to Oyer, the dogs’ protective vests weigh only two and a half pounds apiece and are bulletproof and stab resistant. Rony’s vest is yellow, a choice by Oyer since the dog’s coloring is so dark. Chica’s vest is black, which stands out against her lighter coat.
The dogs took to the vests well on Saturday, Oyer said, and performed a demonstration for Jacks in their new gear.
The process all began with Oyer’s wife, Misty, who found the Vesting America’s Police K-9 program online. He said she applied for a vest for Rony and the dog qualified, but then the K-9 was put on a waiting list. In the meantime, the Ohio chapter began, eventually helping both of the GPD’s K-9s get their protective vests.
The vests, according to Oyer, retail at about $1,500 to $2,000 each, but the group works to provide the vests to the four-legged officers at no cost to the community’s those K-9s serve.
So far this year, according to the online Officer Down Memorial Page, there have been at least nine K-9 deaths in the line of duty across the United States. More than half of those deaths were the result of gunshot and stabbing.
GPD’s K-9s have never had vests before, Oyer said, due to the cost of the protective gear. There are thousands of dollars wrapped up in each of the dogs from not only acquiring them, but in training and in feeding and caring for them.
“It’s great,” he said about the vests. And, he said, the vests protect the investment in the dogs, which is $10,000 to $12,000, and gives the dogs more options by which to be employed.
Rony has a Facebook page, “Greenfield Police K9 Rony,” on which information and photos are posted about both Rony and Chica.
Oyer said it is a common occurrence for people to want to donate to the department to assist with the care and feeding of the dogs, and the city is working on the appropriate legal channel by which those donations can be accepted. Right now, Shanks and Oyer take care of the veterinarian expenses and the department pays for the dogs’ food.
Oyer’s “ultimate goal,” he said, is to get a third dog so that there is one K-9 per shift, giving the department that added advantage in battling drugs and crime.
On the Ohio Chapter’s Facebook page Jacks wrote, “…these are seemingly ordinary dogs that do extraordinary things. After they are trained, they also become someone’s pet, putting themselves in harm’s way to keep you and I safe. Don’t get me wrong, not just any dog can be a police K-9. And there are some that are trained, but just don’t work out. But at the end of a police K-9’s shift, they go home and do what dogs do.”
She goes on to say that when people donate to help provide a vest for a K-9, that person is doing “more than just protecting a police officer. You are giving peace of mind to their department, their handler and their family.”
For more information about the Vesting K-9s group, go to the Ohio Chapter of Vesting America’s Police K-9 page on Facebook, or to the national group’s page, Vesting America’s Police K-9s. For more information and photos of Rony and Chica, go to Rony’s Facebook page. Those interested in finding out how to contribute to the dogs can contact Oyer through Rony’s Facebook page or call GPD at 937-981-4466.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.