New K-9 body armor honors fallen police dog
One of the Hillsboro Police Department's dogs is sporting some new duds this week, after receiving a bullet-proof vest paid for by a Gresham woman.
On Thursday, Blazer, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois with the Hillsboro Police Department's K-9 program, received a set of body armor to be warn while on patrol across the city, according to Hillsboro Police spokesman Henry Reimann.
The vest was paid for by Debbie Currie of Gresham and embroidered with the message, "In memory of K9 Odie".
Odie, a German shepherd who served as a Hillsboro K-9 from 2009 until his death, died after being diagnosed with cancer in March 2017.
According to Reimann, Currie donated more than $900 to Vested Interest in K9s Inc., a Massachusetts-based charity which provides vests to police dogs across the country.
Since it began in 2009, the organization has donated more than 2,800 protective vests to police dogs in all 50 states. The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age.
It costs about $950 to provide one protective vest for a dog, Reimann said. Reimann said the department always tries to use grants when buying new protective equipment as a way to save money in the department's budget. Each vest weighs as much as five pounds.
Blazer is the second dog in the department to receive body armor. Last year, fellow Hillsboro K-9 Timber received a bullet-proof vest from the same organization. That vest was paid for by a Sherwood couple, Reimann said.
The vests will play a major role in keeping the animals safe, Reimann said.
"In our most serious tracks, we're looking for somebody in possession of a gun or a knife, and the K9 is the lead officer," Reimann said after Timber received his vest. "(The dogs are) either off-leash or on-leash, depending on the type of track, but they're the first to encounter that person."
Blazer is assigned to Hillsboro Police Officer Matt Schmidt.