Hamilton County K9 officers get bulletproof vests

Hamilton County K9 officers get bulletproof vests

April 22nd, 2014 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Deputy Mickey Roundtree reaches under "Quanto's" bullet-proof vest Monday to demonstrate where cooling packs are placed inside for the dog at the Sheriff's West Annex on Dayton Boulevard.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

GET INVOLVED

To donate or for more information about In Vest in K9, call Robin Scott at 423-313-3892 or go to the Facebook page at In Vest in K9.

Kada, a 50-pound scrappy K9, has dodged bullets, tracked down felons and sniffed out narcotics.

"She goes in head first and I hope for the best," said Hamilton County Deputy Sheriff Eric Baxter, Kada's partner.

For two years while working with Baxter, Kada has had no protection of her own.

That changed Monday, when Robin Scott presented Kada and fellow sheriff's office K9 Quanto with bulletproof vests. She wants to raise money to purchase vests for all six of the sheriff's office's K9 officers.

"As money rolls in, it will go straight to them," Scott said.

Some dogs with the department have vests, but the vests are seven years old. The Kevlar that makes them bulletproof starts breaking down after five years, officers said. The newer vests also are lighter at 7 pounds than the older ones at 14 lbs each.

Heavier vests cause dogs to overheat and tire faster, according to handlers.

The new vests, valued at $1,000 each, will give the dogs protection from bullets and stabbings. The vest also will prevent a dog from receiving the full impact from a car crash. And the vests come with thermal packs inside them to keep dogs cool.

Scott, who says she sympathizes with the needs of law enforcement because a police officer raised her, has raised money for 12 K9 bulletproof vests since April 2013 when she founded her nonprofit organization In Vest in K9.

She has sent vests to the Chattanooga Police Department and to officers as far away as Riverdale, Ga., and West Virginia.

Baxter said there has not been a Hamilton County sheriff's K9 killed on duty in the seven years he's been a deputy sheriff, but he's still relieved to have protection for his dog.

He's had Kada for two years, and they're together at least 12 hours a day, he said.

Scott said K9 officers across the country are wounded or killed in the line of duty every week.

The dogs won't hesitate at the sight of a gun, and they're trained to defend their partners to their death, Scott said.

"The bond they have with the officers is irreplaceable," she said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.