ST. LOUIS — Every K-9 officer within the St. Louis County Police Department is now outfitted with protective ballistic vests.
A national non-profit organization, Spikes K-9 Fund, has been raising money for an ongoing mission to protect police dogs in the line of duty across the country, including in St. Louis.
Robert Dean is a handler in the K-9 unit in St. Louis County. He has been working with police dogs for 12 years, but has been training with his most recent partner, Onix, for more than three years.
“I’m with him almost 24 hours a day unless I got out of town. He goes home with me after work and of course he goes to work with me. He’s with me more than my regular human family,” Dean said.
Since Onix has been in the police force, Dean said his bond with him has been an extraordinary one. He said the duo has responded to many violent crimes. He calls the work a dangerous one.
“Our job is to assist the patrol units and any aspect the dog can be used for as far as narcotics searches or patrol aspects.” Dean said. “We have had numerous dogs, like my first dog lost he was assaulted numerous times.”
Dean said he believes the protective vests will keep the police dogs safe when officers respond to dangerous situations.
“These vests are bullet proof resistant and stab resistant.” Dean said. “I think it just gives me a little more security knowing that, you know, he has some type of protection.”
St. Louis County police said their K-9s and handlers are typically the first to go into dangerous situations when violence strikes in the county. Fortunately, Dean said none of their dogs have ever died in the line of duty due to violence, but he still believes the vests will shield their K-9s from ever suffering a tragic fate.
“This gives him some type of protection instead of nothing at all,” Dean said.
Spike K-9 fund said it has helped 580 police dogs since the organization was founded. If you like to donate to help save police dogs across the country, click here.
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