The police department in Mentor Ohio is doing all it can to provide the most protection possible to it’s canine members. Titan and Bo, the department’s 2 police dogs are being given special ballistic vests, similar to the type human police officers wear. The vests cost $2500 each and go a long way not only toward protecting the dogs, but also in showing how important their contribution is to public safety.
While the vests aren’t completely bullet proof or knife proof, they do offer a substantial amount protection from small arms fire and will not impede their movement or agility in any way. “We’re trying to get the fitting for the dogs fine-tuned, ” said Lt. Ken Zbiegien, who is in charge of the canine unit. “It’s basically a ballistic vest that fits right over the dog. It doesn’t completely protect the dog, but it’s kind of like a ballistic vest an officer would wear.”
The vests are coming from a Canadian company called K9 Storm that also provides navy seal dogs with protective gear. Funding came from the canine community donation fund. Both are German Shepherds who have been with the department for less than a year but have already made quite an impression. “They’re doing phenomenal,” Zbiegien said. “Every day is a learning process because they’re still a young team. It takes a little while getting comfortable working together as a team and building confidence, especially the handler trusting in the dog as far as narcotic searches and people searches and stuff like that.”
In addition to their tracking skills, the canines are also very useful to the department for special events and education. Having dogs around is wonderful for morale as well, even though they are working dogs, they bring smiles to many faces each and every day.